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When we asked a group of parents to recall what their middle school experience was like, people called out “pimples!” “awkwardness” “being self-conscious” and “being picked on.” Given those memories of being in seventh grade, it is easy to see why many parents have much anxiety as their child transitions from elementary to middle school. In addition to these anxieties, parents in Hawai‘i often hear negative stereotypes about public education that promote some to exit public education after elementary school. Parents for Public Schools of Hawai‘i has found that many of these fears are based on hearsay. To work against this, we launched their Middle School Tours and Evening Events two years ago.
Planned collaboratively with local middle and intermediate schools, the Middle School Tours are typically two hours long. Families of potential students, who may bring their fifth or sixth graders along, meet school leaders and staff, hear from students what their lives are like there, and tour the middle school campus.
20- 60 parents and other family members attend the tours. Responses to the quality of school programs and responsiveness of school staff they meet are very positive. For example, one of the parents who attended a Kailua Intermediate School Tour proclaimed that the tour had changed her mind. She arrived unsure as to whether she would be sending her child to Kailua or to a private school. She was so impressed by Kailua Intermediate that after the tour, she was convinced that her daughter would be attending the public school. Middle School tours have been suspended during the COVID-19 period. But in the past we have held them at these schools:
- Jarrett Middle School
- Kailua Intermediate School
- Kaimuki Middle School
- Kawananakoa Middle School
- Stevenson Middle School
- Washington Middle School
We received funding from a local foundation, the Learning Coalition to begin our Middle School events