Eighth grade students step up in high school classes


Eighth-grader Carlee Cumming adores the French language.

In fact, she loves it so much that she decided to get ahead of the majority of the students in her grade and take the high school French 1 class. 

“One of my friends who was in her freshman year said that I could do French,” Carlee said. “I thought that was cool because I’ve done Spanish since kindergarten, so it would just be something different.”

Though change is a nice thing to experience every once in a while, change was not Carlee’s only motivation for taking French at the high school. 

There are many benefits to taking a language during high school. For French, one of the main attractions of the class is the opportunity to embark on the trip to France taken over spring break. For some students, this benefit is used; however, for a few other students, the opportunity just sparks excitement through the mere idea of traveling there. This element of the class makes it more enjoyable for many students.

“I thought it would be fun because I do actually want to go to Paris once I’m out of high school, so then I would have more experience,” Carlee said. “It’s also something that’s nice to know sooner.” 

Another benefit of taking a high-school language during middle school is the chance for AP credits. 

AP credit is the primary reason that high school languages are offered to middle school students. French, in particular, is one of the few classes that requires four years of experience before the option to take it as an AP class is given to students. 

“I think it should stay [that way] because the only reason we do it is you have to take five years of a language to take AP,” French teacher Laurie VanHouten said. “So, unless there is a really good reason, I don’t think there is any need for them to come [to the high school].” 

AP credit is primarily the only reason that high-school languages are offered to middle-school students.

There are still disadvantages to taking language classes a year early. The majority of the disadvantages, however, are targeted more towards the high school students rather than the middle school students: it is difficult for some students to adjust to the younger ages of all the students that walk up to the high school every day. 

“[It’s a little weird] since some of the [middle schoolers] take a long time to come up,” freshman Madelyn Bachert said. “Plus, they’re all just younger than the rest of us.”

And although sixth hour is typically longer than some of the other classes throughout the day, it is often shortened for the students in the French 1 class. The eighth grade students are usually anywhere from five to ten minutes late to class. Though VanHouten tries her best to fill up the time spent waiting for the middle schoolers to arrive to class, there are some days that they are not able to wait. 

“It depends on the day,” VanHouten said. “I’ll try to ask how they’re doing, but if it’s a quiz or something, I try to usually just start it.”

In spite of the fact that the class starts quizzes and tests without the middle schoolers, the class still does face some problems with that solution.  Though it is true that students take tests at different paces and some of the middle schoolers may finish before the high schoolers on certain assignments, most of the time, the high schoolers find themselves waiting for the middle schoolers to finish before they move on. 

This conundrum is not a simple one to solve. 

“It’s not as hard leaving the class before since I have an easier class before,” Carlee said. “But, it’s definitely harder when I get here just because it takes a long time to walk up—especially in the winter.”

The middle school students have to sacrifice their time at the middle school in order to prevent the high school class from waiting too long, and this adds more to the eighth graders’ plates. But, the punctuality of the middle schoolers is not the only problem faced by this class—timidness is as well. 

“They like to talk to each other and not always [to] the high schoolers,” Madelyn said. 

This, however, is not a realization made by only the students but also by the teachers. For the French class, the first year tends to exhibit an extreme of this problem.

“It depends on the year, [but] I would say usually by French 2, they’ve bonded as one group,” Van Houten said. “It probably takes a little longer in French 1 partly because the one group comes in late, so everybody is always aware of who are the eighth graders, but eventually they all bond together.”

Despite these issues, both the high school and the middle school students still enjoy themselves when sitting through their classes.

“It’s so fun, and I love the [language] teachers,” Carlee said.