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Okay, let’s have everyone get out of their self-interested positions for the next several minutes and seek instead the experiences of American fourteen-year-olds on their first days of high school.

You are a ninth grader again.  Just as you were only two or three years ago, when you were either sixth or seventh graders entering middle schools, you have again been reshuffled into a much larger school than you have ever seen before.  Just like two or three years ago, you know some of the students in this huge new school but you don’t know most of them.  And again, just like two or three years ago, you are among the youngest and smallest students in the school.

The differences of high school will unfold before you within the next two or three months.

For example, your English teacher may well give you a permission slip that your parent is required to sign before you can watch an assigned classroom movie.  Since your parents generally feel competitively about your education – and want you to keep up with the other students in every way possible – they sign the permission slip.  The movie assigned is titled “Shakespeare in Love” – a rather old Hollywood film purporting to report how the bard received inspiration for writing “Romeo and Juliet.”  The film is designed to give high school students a general feeling about William Shakespeare before you start studying “Romeo and Juliet” in class.

But then the ninth graders end up not really learning anything about Romeo and Juliet nut instead must deal in this film with a basic modern man and a basic modern woman going through a complete physical repertoire under Elizabethan sheets.  Finally the ninth grader may draw the conclusion that whatever Shakespeare may have written was not nearly as important as the sexual combustion that is out there in the Here and Now waiting for everyone at that very minute.

Still you as a ninth grader may think you are pretty hip because even in Middle School you have learned what illegal drugs are water soluble and what linger in the human cell. But then you hitch onto upper classroom joking about growing weed and you finally realize that these older students are growing their own drugs because there is something more formidable now about the high-school population dealers who are connected to billionaire-dollar drug cartel rings.

Pretty soon as a freshman you begin to see that you are in over your head, and you respond by resorting to the regressive behavior that you carried into your Middle School debut.  That is, you start acting squirrely again, to accent the kid still inside you rather than the emerging adult, because kids (so you have heard) are protected by our society.

Still, in my own memories of ninth grade, for example, when freshmen still attended middle school with seventh and eighth graders, the ninth graders were the elder statesman of the junior high school.  They acted the role, too.  Being the oldest brothers and sisters in the school, they became role models by their advanced activities in sport and student government.

But today, in our high schools where we keep wanting to advance programs to students in order to enhance scholastic achievement, even the freshman sports and the freshman student governments become known for having the least programs in the school.

How about giving ninth graders just one more year of relief from our adult programs so they can grow up into sophomores in peace?

That would be nice.

 Chris Sharp— Commentary

Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.