Recently I spoke with a few of our past Regis parents about their son’s transition to high school. Knowing a new school year was on the horizon, they were worried about the anxiety their son might be experiencing entering a new learning environment. I assured them the anxiety they were experiencing was probably of the garden variety experienced by all new freshmen. Most likely, it was equal measure excitement, nervousness, butterflies in the stomach and a touch of giddiness. It has been my experience that when Regis boys leave the nurturing environment of our middle school, they are more than ready to experience an expanded high school environment that challenges the predictable routines they established at Regis. That’s why I always remind 8thgrade parents that it’s natural for an 8thgrade boy around late April to declare to everyone at Regis and in his home, “I’m sick and tired of 8thgrade!” It’s natural to mentally prepare for a transition out of Regis and into a new high school with bravado and confidence. This is what we nurture and encourage with our boys around Goal V: Personal Growth in an Atmosphere of Wise Freedom. Their atmosphere of freedom is about to expand as a freshman and that’s how it should be.
That same transition can be said for the Regis boy about to enter his 3 Pre-K classroom, or his Kindergarten, 2ndgrade, or Middle School Advisory group. Every beginning has a new, expanding atmosphere of wise freedom attached to it. For every Regis boy, there is a level of anxiety that he will feel as he lays his head on his pillow the night before the first day of school. That kind of anxiety is the good anxiety that gets his mind churning toward imagination and excitement to experience new adventures and potential life-long friendships. For an 8thgrade boy at the start of the year, he will probably obsess a bit more than all the other boys about reaching the end, but that’s ok. He’s preparing himself on the first day of school for his high school transition.
I’ve been worried lately, especially after a summer of mass shootings, that some of the badanxiety boys might feel is creeping too often into our daily lives . We seem to have a shorter supply of progress in the news around our world’s evolving state of hope and trust. As we all know, if we don’t talk to our boys about the news and events that affect our society, they can experience the more serious brand of anxiety. Boys can be deeply affected by the images they see online, in the media and printed on the front page of the newspaper. The good news is we can do something by responding in age-appropriate ways to help them process the events so they can ask questions. We don’t have to have all the answers, but they need to know we are thinking about the events too.
There are many helpful resources we can use when we speak to our boys about these issues. I recommend you read over this suggested list of helpful talking tips.
Every new school year, before I restart my motor and tune up for a new beginning, I pull out my list of “good stress” items to recall what I need to focus on to grow and be more effective. I share these with you as we begin again and I encourage you in true Sacred Heart (and in the words of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat) fashion to participate in this coming year with, “Courage and Confidence!”
Good Stress List:
- Gradually introduce things into your life that are meaningful but make you feel afraid or uncomfortable. I could list many things under this heading, but only you know what these things are for yourself. Now is a perfect moment to embrace these items.
- Change: We all love predictability, but adapting to things that are new in our lives is a great skill. Our boys do it everyday more freely than us adults. We can learn from them and be flexible. Humor and laughter are a great tonic when we live through newness and change. Variety is the spice of our lives.
- Don’t be afraid to fail or make a mistake: Our greatest moments of learning come after a mistake. We laser focus our attention on what happened and what we missed or forgot to notice. No one likes to mess up, but if we don’t try and deal with the discomfort, we’ll never experience the euphoria of accomplishing something we feared and stayed distant from.
This new school year, our Faculty and Staff have chosen TRUST as a theme to focus on with each other, with the boys and with you as Regis parents. I’m eager to share with you many moments of trust as we move through the school year. I know trustworthy leadership is the heart of productive and healthy schools. Our Regis community has all the ingredients needed within our Five Goals of Sacred Heart education to be a center of care, honesty, openness, reliability and competence. Mix in some good stress and plenty of opportunities to talk when we need to and we give our boys a ticket to success for the future!