An Open Letter to Seventh Graders in My Tenth Year of Teaching

Dear Seventh Grader,

This year, it’s a high-pressure year.   High school applications are due in the Fall of eighth grade, so high schools that are looking at transcripts see your seventh-grade test scores and grades.   You are going to hear this a lot; so much, in fact, that you might think we don’t really mean it.  But trust me; it’s true.  It’s also going to be a tough year physically and emotionally, so here are some things I think you should know.  You might learn some of these things as the year goes by in health class, in any other class, or from your friends.  You might learn some of these things from your parents.  And some of these things you might not learn at all, which is why I’ve compiled this list that will keep you informed and help you through the seventh grade.

  • Please bring a sharpened pencil or pen everyday.  Teachers hate it when you’re unprepared.  We will judge you based on this.
  • If you’re unsure of something, ask an adult. You want it to seem like you know everything, but we know you don’t.  If it’s a personal issue – you know, something you think is REALLY embarrassing – it’s still okay to ask.  I can guarantee you; we’ve seen it before.  We won’t laugh at you or think you are dumb.  We want to help you solve your problems.
  • You know those test scores you’re so proud of? And those grades?  The high 90 average in every class?  Well, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got high scores; if you can’t get to school on time, no high school is going to want you.  I’ve seen tears – many, many tears – over the years. Why would a high school want a student that can’t make it to class in the morning, no matter how good her grades are?  I know it’s a challenge to get to school on time because it’s a challenge to wake up.  But you have to try your hardest.
  • It’s a challenge to wake up because your body is out of control right now.  There are chemicals causing changes to you inside and out.  You’re growing, and you need rest to do that.  Don’t stay up all night reading or playing video games.  The books and games aren’t going anywhere. You can read or play after school tomorrow.
  • You might not recognize yourself one day, and I might not recognize you either.  There will be a vacation – Winter, Mid-Winter, Spring –; it doesn’t really matter which one.  But it will be about a week long, and when you get back to school, you will look like a completely different student.  You will have gone from a child to a teenager.  This is called a growth-spurt.
  • If you are a girl, you will need to buy a bra; if you already own one, you will need to buy a bigger one sometime this year.  If your breasts are falling over the top of your bra, it’s time to get a new one.  If you wear a tight shirt, as many of you do, we can see your breasts falling over the top of your bra.  Ask an adult to help you shop for a bra that’s the right size.  The saleswomen at stores get paid to do this, and you’ll never have to see them again afterwards.
  • Cleavage.  You’re going to have it at some point.  Keep it to yourself.  Same goes for bra straps.  Buy a tank top that covers the straps if you rock the eighties off-the-shoulder look.
  • Boys:  We don’t want to see your underwear.  I don’t care if you’ve got some new boxers.  Let your pants sag all you want when you are not in school; as with bra straps and cleavage, cover it up.
  • You will definitely need some deodorant this year, so buy it or use your parents’.  There is nothing worse than the smell of a roomful of seventh graders at the end of a long day.
  • Be nice.  Please.  It’s one thing to joke around with friends, but it’s another thing to be just plain mean.  You will like yourself more if you treat people well.  Other people will like you, too.
  • If someone is not being nice to you – really, truly making it so you don’t want to come to school anymore – tell someone.  Something CAN be done.

Sincerely,

Ms. Pignataro

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