Darlington School: Private Boarding School in Georgia Setting GR8 Girls Up for a GR8 Freshman Year
Darlington School: Private Boarding School in Rome, GA
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Setting GR8 Girls Up for a GR8 Freshman Year

Bebe Zazzaro | May 2, 2016 | 1341 views

Do you remember your first few days of high school? We all worried about many things like getting lost, taking the right classes, fitting in, and finding our place.

Every year the middle grades and Upper School plans activities and transition days to help prepare eighth-grade students for their new adventure. The good news is that all students eventually adjust to Upper School life. Students start to really get their stride after RUMPUS weekend. Day and boarding students spend weeks preparing for this event. The week leading up to the big weekend, day students spend hours in the dorm with boarding students practicing their LipSync numbers and trying to decide who should participate in which events. It is great to see the freshman class start to gel and get to know each other outside of the classroom.

This year Jill Babb, Head of Cooper House (our freshman girls' dorm), and her student leaders started to wonder if there was a way that they could help students become more comfortable and find their place in the Upper School earlier in the year. They talked their ideas over and contacted me in my role as the ELA-8 counselor. We met a few nights after study hall and talked about what it is like to be in eighth grade, what life is like for these sophomore and junior girls in the Upper School, and how we can support and help them find confidence in themselves.


It was through these nights that GR8 Girls was born. Currently, we are a group of seven sophomores and juniors who have met with the eighth-grade girls three times during their lunch and advisory time. In our second meeting, both sets of girls spent time thinking of their younger selves and the young women they are today. They reflected on how they have grown and changed. Then we asked them what advice they would give their younger self.

Here is what they shared with the eighth-grade girls: 


Sara Dickinson (‘17)

If I could go back to my eighth-grade self and give her some advice, I would tell her to reach out and get involved in her community. We are surrounded by fascinating people from all kinds of backgrounds and we have access to great opportunities.


Bernadette Ebri (‘17)

If I could go back to my eighth-grade self and give her some advice, I would tell her to take the time to get to know herself and fall in love with who she is. You are confident and curious and you shouldn’t let anyone take that away from you.

Morgan Adams (‘18)

If I could go back to my eighth-grade self and give her some advice, I would tell her to never get too comfortable with your surroundings, and you never know what life has ahead of you. Be more positive towards people and always be more open to let people in!


Claire Anderson (‘18)

If I could go back to my eighth-grade self and give her some advice, I would say that even if you’re shy, step outside your comfort zone and be a leader. Also, failure is OK, life goes on and gets better! Get ready to embrace change in high school and to put yourself out there to do the things that you’re passionate about.

Rainey Scarborough (‘18)

If I could go back to my eighth-grade self and give her some advice, I would tell her to not care so much what other people thought. Things get better in high school, and you really do find your real friends who appreciate you. You stop caring about what others think, and focus more on your individual growth as a person.


Lilley Washburn (‘18)

If I could go back to my eighth-grade self and give her some advice, I would tell her it is OK to stand out and be different.


Our hope is that they will see that as you grow and change, you need to encourage and challenge yourself. Surround yourself with friends that support you and don’t tear you down. Allow yourself to take risks and find what you are good at even if you are the only one. 

The older girls want to support these girls in their transition. They want to be that friendly face that these young freshmen can ask questions and for advice. We want to grow a supportive Tiger family that will enable these girls to find their best selves. In the years ahead, Jill and I hope to expand this group to include a larger group of Upper School girls, and plan to meet with the next group of eighth-graders throughout the coming school year. We will keep you posted on our progress.