South Orangetown Central School District

On January 30, a team of administrators, faculty members and 41 freshmen traveled from Tappan Zee High School to talk with South Orangetown Middle School eighth-graders about academics, enrichment and what to expect next year.

Eighth-grade students, teachers, school counselors and administrators gathered in the auditorium to listen to brief presentations from TZHS faculty about course options and things to consider when deciding which classes to take. Regardless of whether they take general, Regents or Honors courses, high school students are expected to work independently and handle a more demanding workload. Teachers encouraged students to pursue challenges that are aligned with their interests, so that they’ll be more motivated to succeed.

“Our goal is for eighth-graders to know about their options,” explained TZHS Principal Dr. Jennifer Amos. “Peer pressure is real. Parents and students know students best: What interests they have, what they’re passionate about, what their work ethic is and how well they work independently. It’s important to choose what’s best for you, not what’s best for your friend group.”

Following the presentations, the high school ambassadors fanned out to share their perspectives in a dozen eighth-grade classrooms:

  • “Grading is harder and there’s much more work. If you’re accustomed to getting high grades in middle school, don’t be discouraged if they drop when you start high school. If you work hard, they’ll improve. But it takes time.”
  • “For Living Environment Honors, you need to take your own notes. They’re not given to you. Labs are really different and need to be done according to a rubric. Here, you go over them in advance, so you do well. At the high school, you have to do it all on your own.”
  • “It’s difficult to do a club and a sport in the same season. You can’t just show up to sign in and then leave club meetings; you have to have a higher level of commitment. Our counselors tell us that colleges look for real involvement in clubs and want to see that you’ve contributed in some way.”
  • “Take advantage of office hours. Teachers don’t necessarily review the day before a test, so make sure to go to your teachers’ office hours if you need help.”
  • “Most athletes try to get work done in study hall or before their games. A study hall can be really helpful if you’re an athlete.”

This is the second consecutive year that ninth-grade ambassadors and faculty have met with eighth-grade students, led by Instructional Coaches Marisa Premus and Mark Stanford. Although the teacher-nominated group reflects diverse interests and academic pursuits, Mr. Stanford said that every incoming freshman shares a common challenge: “The speed at which things happen. The pace that material is covered, getting assignments done on time, moving from class to class during passing time. That’s the biggest adjustment.”

“We want to thank the high school staff and students for taking the time to come to SOMS to speak with our eighth-graders,” said Principal Dr. Chad Corey. “They provided valuable information for our students as they begin their transition from SOMS to TZHS. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with TZHS staff and students to provide opportunities like these to our students!” More photos on Facebook.

TZHS students with advisors pose for group photo