Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

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Hey, middle school isn't so bad!

Selected sixth graders who have survived the first semester have to admit it: Middle school is starting to grow on them.


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 12, 2001

Have your older brothers or sisters told you horror stories about middle school? If they have, they probably have been lying, just to scare you!

I interviewed 10 boys and girls who have survived the first half of sixth grade this year, at Bay Point and Riviera Middle schools in St. Petersburg. (I know a little something about it myself, as well.)

When the year began, only one, Victor Phelps, a sixth-grader at Bay Point, said middle school is "definitely better than elementary school." If this sounds grim to you fifth-graders, remember that we're now halfway through the year, and things are getting better.

At the beginning of the year, we were grim. Not about getting shoved into a locker or even being beaten up. We're talking about homework! Lots of it, more than in elementary school.

Some complaints included having so many teachers, not enough time to get to different classes, and too much work, and a schedule that gets us home not too long before the sun goes down, with no time to get together with friends, or play outside.

"I hate middle school because there's no PE," complained Sunny Patel, 12, a student at Bay Point.

Now that the year is half over and we can see the light on the other side of the classroom door, most sixth-graders have settled into middle school life.

Amber Robinson, 12, of Bay Point, likes middle school better than elementary because "you don't have to stay in one class all the time."

Brittany Montgomery, 11, also of Bay Point, says she likes middle school because "I like meeting new people."

There's a silver lining in every cloud. Even if middle schoolers don't get home until nearly 5 o'clock, Bret McCown, 12, says "I like going to school late, so this is good."

But don't worry. Even with the downside, the truth is you have a lot more freedom, and you get lockers, even if you have to evict the ants who were there before you -- and who keep returning! Plus, things like not having to walk in line with your teacher when going to lunch make the challenges of middle school worthwhile.

* * *

Stephen Graves, 11, is in the sixth grade at Bay Point Middle School in St. Petersburg.

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