John, as promised, here's the essay I told you about. It was given to me nearly twenty years ago, and I've shared it many times. Except for the dated slang, I think this essay is the best description I've ever read of those kids who are betwixt and between. Years ago, I had to go back to five new classes of seventh graders within a few days after my mother's funeral. Without exaggeration, I had not one single behavior problem for that last quarter of the school year -- those kids absolutely enfolded me with TLC. As frustrating as they can be at times, junior highers are absolutely awesome. By the way, if anyone has information on the author of this piece, I would love to start giving credit. WHAT IS A JUNIOR HIGHER? (Courtesy of Walter Hill Junior High School) Somewhere between the innocence and prattle of elementary school and the mature sophistication of senior high school is an emotional roller coaster known as the junior high school age. Junior highers come in a vast assortment of physical shapes and sizes. Some of them get so big that strangers are amazed. Some of them are so mature (compared to others) that even teachers are awed. Junior highers are not very strong for homework, teachers who never crack a joke, rules and regulations, doing chores around the house, homework, putting their clothes away, homework, being treated like children (except when they want to be), adults who talk down to them, homework, being embarrassed in front of their friends, and homework. These things are gross! Junior highers are very strong for clothes, teachers with a sense of humor, the telephone, horror movies, passing notes, clothes, unbelievable amounts of the wrong kinds of food, loud music (played night and day) that gives anyone over the age of eighteen the screaming meemies, adults who do not embarrass them in front of their friends, crazy fads that come and go almost overnight, sports, social activities, practically all boys (if you're a girl), certain girls (if you're a boy), being excused from class (because we're not doing anything in there today, anyway), clothes, being treated like adults (except when they want to be treated like children), the beach, and clothes. These things are rad! The greatest tragedy in junior high is not having a friend to eat lunch with. The greatest triumph is finding out that a certain person likes you. Junior highers are vastly underrated by those who have never worked with them. At no age are kids more enthusiastic, more reasonable when they really know the reason, more protective of their friends, more anxious to please the adults they like, more willing to pour their hearts and souls into a worthwhile project (if they're sold on the value of it), and more appreciative in the long-run of those who have tried to help them. Junior highers don't know the meaning of the word "impossible" -- so they go ahead and do it -- good or bad. We suspect that junior highers love every minute of their crazy Halloween world; not only the fun, the laughter, the music, the friends, but the tears, the frustrations, the adults who don't "understand" them, and, yes, even the embarrassments as well. Deep down, junior highers know that the race is won by the alert, the hardworking, the responsible, the person who does what's expected of him. They know that no one is going to hand them the world on a skateboard. Yes, junior highers are wonderful; they're trying on the patience; they're possessed of greatness; they cause you to lose your hair -- but they're the hope of the world. And as soon as they learn to live with the mysterious difference between what adults say and what adults do, the only really difficult problem that lies ahead for them is that some day they, too, will be living in the same house with a junior higher.