is a time of tremendous emotional, physical and social growth. With so much change taking place, it is vitally important that Middle Schoolers are in an environment that gives them a sense of continuity, familiarity and security.
In fact, research indicates that academic performance typically declines during periods of transition, with the characteristic especially prevalent among Middle School students. At Gill, the move from Lower to Middle School is remarkably seamless, with our fifth-grade students dividing their time between the Lower and Middle School buildings, allowing them to make the transition gradually. As our students mature, their coursework evolves, as do their day-to-day schedules, but the essential spirit of the community they first experienced in our Lower School—its character, expectations and values—remains unchanged. As several parents have remarked, “Gill has the community feeling of a small school but the resources of a large school.” That combination makes it an ideal place for students as they develop and grow.
As students move through Middle School, they typically become increasingly involved with the extracurricular life of the school. There are numerous events and initiatives throughout the year that allow our Middle Schoolers to interact with Upper School students and take part in Upper School activities. For example, on opening night for our varsity basketball teams, the Upper School invites the eighth grade to a special pre-game dinner in the Knights Café. Seventh- or eighth-grade students who are interested in theater are often cast in ensemble roles in our Upper School musicals; Middle School sports teams often have the same coaches as do our JV and varsity squads and several community service initiatives involve both Middle and Upper School. In terms of academics, our Middle School students understand—not abstractly, but concretely and specifically—that they are preparing for Upper School. We host several transition days throughout the year for our eighth-graders and our Upper School language teachers and math teachers work with Middle School faculty to make sure that each student is being appropriately challenged without missing important material.