By: Tom Duggan – May 7, 2007
When I thought of my daughter Hanna advancing from 5th grade at the Thomson School to 6th grade at the North Andover Middle School (NAMS), the last thing I was thinking about was grade inflation.
I was more concerned about issues relating to the transition, like bullying, peer pressure and the awkwardness pre-teens face when starting a new school. Those are the issues that I remember from my own junior high experience.
Much to my relief and surprise, and to the credit of the NAMS’ teachers, principal and assistant principals, Hanna transitioned into middle school without any problems at all. In fact, I watched her and her friends grow from playful, young 5th graders into proud, confident and mature young girls eager to further their educational experience. None of which I remember from my own experience at junior high. It was very impressive and very exciting to see.
What I did not see, was any bullying or peer pressure. No one has asked Hanna if she would like to try a cigarette or experiment with drugs. Hanna and her friends are also more interested in their grades than in boys. This is another credit to their teachers, the staff and the administration at NAMS because the kids are enjoying school and are eager to learn.
To her own credit, Hanna has made high honors. She is one of those students that the School Committee is concerned because her grades may be inflated. Well, I see first hand that Hanna works extremely hard, spending hours after school doing her homework and meticulously studies for her tests. She takes her grades very seriously and thrives on achieving.
Hanna averages three tests and quizzes each week and she studies hard for each one of them. I have seen her memorize all of the African and Asian countries, their rivers, weather and social influences and the different cultures each experience. She has learned all the parts of a biological cell and I believe that she knows everything about Darwin and natural selection.
The tests Hanna takes are very challenging and difficult, yet Hanna still gets A’s on all of them. She has earned those high honor grades through hard work and per-severance. She does complain, though, that math is too easy and that her Spanish class was a joke (with dancing the Marange and watching “The Land Before Time” in Spanish. Her teacher also played “Daddy Yankee” (a rapper with a reputation you would not want your 5th grader to know about) in the classroom. Unfortunately, Hanna did not learn much of the Spanish language.
Hanna transitioned amazingly well into middle school, maintaining good grades and getting involved in after-school activities. Hanna was involved in the 6th grade play and is now on the volleyball team through the North Andover Booster Club. If Hanna’s friends work as hard as she does, then they have earned those “inflated” grades as well.
Thank you to Mrs. Poor and Mr. Wrigley and the rest of the middle school staff for making Hanna’s 6th grade experience a positive one.