Each new school year brings unique opportunities for growth. For 8th graders at Rodeph Sholom School, not only is the year infused with pinnacle experiences, students also spend time reflecting on who they are and who they want to be as they make important decisions about their high school years. With a focus on the right fit, 8th Grade graduates go on to find success in a wide range of excellent independent, public, and specialized high schools that focus on everything from technology to performing arts.
Finding the right fit takes thoughtful effort, and Delvida Sene, Director of High School Placement, explains that it is the perfect time to explore the possibilities for students who have grown up in this supportive, tight-knit community. They have come to know themselves very well, to flourish, encouraged by faculty who have facilitated their ability to think critically and make informed, mature decisions. Furthermore, the process itself is an excellent preview of the college application process, which many Rodeph Sholom School graduates find much less stressful than their peers from K-12 schools. While the benefits of an N-8 school are many, including preserving childhood and providing leadership opportunities during pivotal years, the individualized attention students receive in preparation for their transition to high school is particularly comprehensive and thorough. From mock interviews to weekly Zoom Q&A sessions for parents, Ms. Sene understands the ins and outs of the process and is an invaluable resource for students and families.
Mock interviews of 8th graders began in mid-September as faculty and staff members volunteered to spend about 20 minutes with a student asking them common interview questions. The students were encouraged to be authentic, think deeply about the questions, and provide answers backed up by examples where possible. Students were then given feedback and encouraged to ask questions about their performance and how they could improve. With a holistic view of the student, interviewers also provided notes and observations to the Director of High School Placement to enable her to present appropriate follow up resources to the students.
One interviewer commented on how prepared and open the students were, and another noted with pride that, almost unanimously, the first answer to the question, “What do you like most about your current school?” was “the community.” Almost all students use that word at some point during their interview. Students also remarked about how comfortable they are speaking with teachers or asking for help, something that will surely benefit them in high school and beyond. Similarly, students appreciated the relationships they built at Rodeph Sholom School. For example, when a 6th Grade science teacher continues with a class as their 7th Grade Advisor, it enables students and teachers to get to know each other better, resulting in a stronger learning partnership.
According to a study by the American College of Testing, “The level of academic achievement that students attain by eighth grade has a larger impact on their college and career readiness by the time they graduate from high school than anything that happens academically in high school.” As an N-8 school, Rodeph Sholom School is singularly focused on educating students during the ages that matter most for their future success. The process of applying to high school compels middle schoolers to truly understand themselves and to articulate their strengths to others. This is an exciting time for our 8th graders, and we wish them a fruitful year and much success as they prepare to move on to the next stage in their journeys.