October is known as the “Month of the Young Adolescent.” It is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the metamorphosis taking place in our 11-14 age group as they make their way to adulthood.
I thought it would be a good idea to combine some thoughts about these middle level learners with the reasons why we chose the mustang to be our school mascot. While I especially like the alliterative sound of the Millburn Middle School Mustangs, the reasons go deeper.
Mustangs are spirited horses. They run wild. They are free. They stay together in a herd.
Starting to sound like middle schoolers?
Kids in this developmental stage are experiencing more freedom. They are curious. Middle level learners demonstrate exuberance. And they seek acceptance by the group as they carve out a personal identity.
Mustangs have become symbolic of the nation’s westward expansion pioneers, and forces of nature that defy human control. Do you know what it is like for fifth graders to come to a much larger school, meet new people, find their way around, master the locker, navigate the lunch line, find one of the four physical education spaces, go to a different class every 40 minutes, and get organized? Middle level learners deserve much credit for the transition they accomplish as they leave the confines of nurturing elementary schools and negotiate new spaces and demands. Students moving from sixth to seventh to eighth also face new challenges each year.
Our collective job is to help them grow in every way. Students will spend less time at the Middle School than they will at either their elementary school or high school, but they undergo more growth and development in these three short years than at any other time since they were infants. They will make gigantic strides physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially.
Finally, mustangs are a symbol of beauty to watch. For those of us who choose to educate preadolescents, we can see not only what happens externally but also how their heart and spirit open up to care about others. We think this is the time of their lives when they will be most influenced by their teachers and many other adults in their lives. They are looking for mentors and role models as they take their place as leaders in our school and of their futures.
We believe that the mustang is an appropriate – and cool – symbol for the students of Millburn Middle School, and we celebrate who they are, their resilience, spirit, and determination.