Public vs. Catholic Junior High (long)

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2003
Public vs. Catholic Junior High (long)
Wed, 07-09-2003 - 12:42pm

I posted this on the "Surviving Middle School" Board in early May...I thought we had made the decision to move to the Public School, BUT now my DD is REALLY having a hard time leaving her school...and I am too! I'd appreciate any insites.

I've been a 'lurker' for years I need help and advice. My DD is now going into 6th grade at a Catholic School. My DS is a 7th grader who moved to the Public School for Jr. High and he loves it! My DD is having a hard time deciding if she should stay at the Catholic School where she's been since 1st grade or if she should go to the Jr. High w/ her brother. She also has a little sister who is going into 4th grade at the Catholic School.

The problem is that she has been a cheerleader for the last 2 years and just made Captain. She is VERY popular and well liked... BUT the Public school offers soooooo much more as far as clubs, sports and other activities. She would qualify for 2 AP classes also (Science and Social Studies/Geo).

She was all set to go until she started telling her friends and they are trying to convince her to stay with them. They have all been close for the last 3 years and I know it will be hard for her at first,but she does make friends easily.

She spent the day at the Public School shadowing another student (6th grader)and she really enjoyed it.

This is all complicated by the fact that her very, very best friend for the last 3 years suddenly dumped her in March for another 5th grader in the neighborhood. I know that kids change friends at this age but the problem is that at the end of the school year they were BRUTAL to her on the bus. Telling her where she had to sit (with the little kids), giving everyone nicknames-nice ones (except hers was Hippo) and just in general ignoring her and making her miserable. The old best friend even told the new best friend all of my daughters secrets. It got so bad that either my DH or I were driving her to school in the morning. The last week of school she finally stood up to them and told them that she did not have to listen to their rules and she could sit where she wanted to. And she did. I was proud of her for that.

So now - beginning of July - she is forgetting the abuse and only thinking of the fun stuff. I'm afraid that if we (my DH and I) make the decision to stay at the Catholic School the meanness will start up again in the Fall and my DD wil regret not taking the chance on a new beginning.

I really don't know what else to do to help her make this decision. I thought she had it made to move to the public Jr. High and when I came home this afternoon she told me she did not want to move because she wanted to cheer on the same team as her little sister, she made Captain and because she would miss her friends.

I'm just afraid that she is going to miss out on a lot of other opportunities if she stays. (Like AP classes, Computer Club, Band, etc...) I also think that the Public School prepares this kids better for High School. Yet there is something to be said for the smallness of the Private school. I know all the parents, teachers, etc.

HELP!!!! I live in Orland Park, IL if anyone is from this area.

Avatar for cl_janetlh
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Wed, 07-09-2003 - 8:31pm
Welcome! I'm glad you've de-lurked. This is such a tough one!!! If *you* think it would be better for her to switch to public school, perhaps you can talk to her about all the advantages, again, remind her how she enjoyed her visit there, and have her come to the decision you seem to think is best for her.

Would it be a terrible thing for her to spend one more year at her current school, and then switch to public school? Also, public school has to accept her anytime! It wouldn't be great to switch mid-year, but kids do it for a variety of reasons and do well.

If you really feel there is more opportunity at the public school, and you have personal experience with the school and like it through your son's experience, then lead your dd to that decision. On the other hand, if there are positives to staying (you really didn't mention any other than cheerleading captain and staying with her sister; in fact you even have social conerns) then support your dd's decision. However, I think suporting her just because she's more comfortable where she is might not be the greatest.

I'm just trying to think "out loud" with you about this. Obviously, I can't possibly know better than you what the right decision is for your child with regard to these particular schools!

I hope now that you de-lurked, you'll visit with us often. Please let us know what you decide and how it goes.




Jewish Family Life

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2003
Wed, 07-09-2003 - 10:23pm
Thanks for your response Janet!

I guess the part that I'm having the biggest problem with is the fact that her Catholic school is very small...only 3 classrooms of about 33 kids for each grade. So about 100 kids per grade. The PS is about 3 times that size for 6th, 7th and 8th grades. I am on the School Board of her CS so I am very visible. The teachers all know me, the principal knows all of my kids by name and of course I know almost all of the kids and their parents.

There is something to be said for that small of a community. She is protected to a certain extent. We know who the trouble makers are, issues are dealt with quickly and it is sort of like an extended family. I do sort of feel that it would be a good place to go thru those crazy early teen years, but what do I know? I haven't gone thru them yet!

HOWEVER...that is exactly why I think (??) I am leaning toward her going to the PS. She told me last year in February that she was 'marked' as a cheerleader. That everyone saw her as just a cheerleader and she felt that was unfair because she is an athlete who competes in Soccer, Tumbling and Trampoline. I guess the smallness of the school lends itself to kids being labeled and then you are sort of stuck with that label. Her 5th grade teacher told me that by the end of the school year the kids are really tired of each other and that's when the bickering starts. That said I do have to say that my DD is popular and well liked. I can only hope that if we change schools she would have the same outcome...(just the well liked part, I think being popular is not as important)

The social issue is a huge concern for me because I am afraid that she may end up being excluded by some of the other girls because of this old best friend dumping her. It's already happened over the summer, and my DD knows about and is OK with it. She does have a good head on her shoulders!

I guess that you can tell that I have NO IDEA what to do. There are pros and cons to both solutions. And of course changing schools is always an unknown, even with 1 child there, her experience could be completely different. I don't want her to have to pay for counseling in her 20's because I messed up! :-)

I so appreciate your input...I'm a blabbering idiot about this and willing to listen to anything that could give me some clarity. Thank You All!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2003
Thu, 07-10-2003 - 12:38pm
My sympathies on making this choice. I had to make a similar one just over a year ago, so I understand how you feel. In our case, they re-zoned the district so that meant Sean had to go to a brand new school, unless we lobbied to keep him in his current school. In the end, we decided to let him be moved to the new school but we spent several weeks agonizing over the decision (for various reasons Sean had already attended 4 different schools by the end of 3rd grade when we were making this decision).

I'm a fan of making lists, if only so that I can lay things out in something approaching a reasonable (to me) fashion. Perhaps you and your daughter could sit down and write out a list of positives and negatives for staying in her current school? If nothing else, it could give some insight into what's important to her and what her fears/concerns are with the possible change.

Good luck!!

Best Always,



Sherrie Rainbow

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-12-2003
Sat, 07-12-2003 - 11:08am
I will have this problem come high school. My girls are in a Catholic elementary school. The Catholic High School is in a town about 20-30 minutes away. They would have to catch the bus at 7:30am and get home at 4pm. I'm hoping by the time they get to high school they will have built another closer to home, but I really doubt that will happen. :( So I have the dilemma of whether to put them in a public high school close to home or Catholic high school farther away.

I went to a Catholic elementary school and decided to go to the public high school my neighbour and best friend was going to. I really regret that decision. All my school friends went to the Catholic high schools and I lost touch with them. At the public high school everyone had their own friendships built and I had trouble fitting in. Only had a handful of friends throughout high school.

Tough decision.

Pat - Katelyn (10), Melanie (almost 7)

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Sun, 07-13-2003 - 8:44am
This is all JMHO. (Yes, I know Orland Park; I grew up in Beverly (city of Chicago), but have been here in St. Louis since '84) We sent ds10 to Catholic K to get him in early; he missed the MO date cutoff for K by 9 days, which changed THE year he was to enter K. We're very glad we did because he needed to start that year. However, academically it wasn't a good fit (and this was in a very affluent area) - the school was much more into social/sports than academia, and he learned basically nothing academically, but did learn how to navigate school and deal with teachers and classmates. We were glad to get him out in 1st because our public schools are SO much more advanced than the Catholic ones. Yes, it was more of a parish home in Catholic, but we wanted him to have the latest technology and advanced work options and differentiated learning and other things the Catholic school just didn't offer. We switched him again in 2nd when we moved to the best local public school district (for that reason). He's since thrived, in the gifted program and in other extracurriculars, and loved the change, once he made friends.

What worked for us was to let him stay on a team with his Catholic friends in 1st, but then go into scouts at the new school, thus having extracurriculars at both places, making a nice transition. Maybe something like this would work for your dd too?

To me, if it were me and it was the time that the public kids would be transferring to a 'middle' school, I'd do it this year for your dd because everyone will be making new friendships/bonds and getting used to the new surroundings.

ITA with above about making lists - I'm also a chronic listmaker, and would definitely recommend doing pros/cons for each scenario. Best of luck; I know how hard it can be!

Again, all is JMHO!


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-16-2003
Wed, 07-16-2003 - 12:13pm
I moved to a public school in the 8th grade, and it was the best move I made. It allowed me two years to make friends in what we call Jr. High (7,8,9th grades) before moving on to high school (10,11,12th grades.) I was behind in many acedemic subjects, and there was no comparison to the technology and other opportunities public school could offer. At an age when so many girls are finding themselves, it was the perfect opportunity to "start over." You have to make this decision for the "long run," not just what is easier now. Best wishes, and lots of luck.