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Advice on How to Succeed in Middle School...and Life (8/365)

The following is an excerpt from a speech I wrote and delivered at this year’s Grade 8 Awards Ceremony. It honored adolescents who’ve been through a lot these last two years of COVID and who have accomplished a lot as well.


Preparing for tonight’s speech was a bit challenging. How do we capture what’s occurred and been accomplished in the last four years, let alone the last two?


Then I remembered my life as a 13 year old 8th grader. While it was a simpler time, I experienced similar challenges of today’s adolescents.


Being an 8th grader has never been easy.


I thought, what advice would I give myself?


Then I stopped and realized, as I often do as a middle school principal, there is so much wisdom right in front of me. This year, our students have inspired us as role models in resilience, curiosity, and tenacity. Kids, you are amazing.





Earlier this school year, we surveyed our 8th graders. As a result, we’ve learned that, in this very audience, we have an aspiring:

  • F1 Engineer

  • Architect

  • Teacher

  • Federal Court Judge

  • Landscaper

  • Anime Cartoonist

  • Artist

  • Writer

  • Attorney

  • Interior designer

  • Musician

  • And a number of aspiring medical professionals

A few pieces of advice on how to succeed in middle school, and actually, in life:

  • Focus on your work, and don't worry too much about anything. Also take everything with a grain of salt.


  • Enjoy your final year in middle school and to commit to doing well in all classes because that gives you so many opportunities.


  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. You are probably helping others because someone else might be wondering the same thing,


  • Keep yourself going. It will get to the point where you feel so frustrated about your work and sports but you can't give up, it will get easier.


  • My advice is don't obsess over your grades. Just do your best!

And, my advice to us adults?


Listen to the kids. They are thoughtful, smart, and they are going places.

And Kids, you keep leading the way. We’re here, and we’re proud of you.

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