Joining the MICDS Upper School Community After Years in Public Schooling

At the 9th Grade Welcome Breakfast for newly accepted rising 9th graders, Palmer Mihalevich ’20 spoke to prospective families about her MICDS experience.

Welcome to all parents and students who are considering joining the MICDS community. I was once in your seat just four years ago. I remember being in the same position. I had a few other options. I was a little nervous about everything and still was having trouble deciding. But when I finally did decide, I immediately knew I had made the right choice, and to this day I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to come to MICDS. 

I came as a freshman from a very small public middle school. I had been in public schooling my whole life up until then, and I was not sure how to feel about private schooling. I left to pursue a school with more challenge and opportunity. After about a week of classes, I knew that MICDS was going to be the right fit, and I had nothing to worry about with the transition. 

It was a little scary coming into a new social and educational atmosphere, as it would have been anywhere, but here at MICDS they made it easy. Everyone was approachable and friendly, and there was no competitive feeling among students. The way I saw it was that there were the right people for every new student to find. Anywhere you looked there were people with the same interests as you, or the same approach to learning, or even just a personality that you could get along with right away. I made friends through advisory, which is a group of students from the same grade that meet a few times a week with a teacher as the advisor. 

The academic transition was also a step up from what I had experienced at public school. MICDS is definitely a challenging environment – the teachers consistently push the students to be their best academic selves, and students are held to higher standards than they would be elsewhere. However, challenge teaches students to become independent and responsible, and it also creates an environment of intellectual curiosity where one never becomes bored. 

While the classes and work are challenging, it comes with equal amounts of opportunity and support. Teachers make sure to form good relationships with their students, and they will not let you slip through the cracks. If a student is struggling in the class or falling behind, teachers give them the opportunity to meet with them outside of class during free periods, collaborative time, or before or after school. They will make sure that you understand the content to the best of your ability because they care about all of their students. 

MICDS also offers a unique and wide range of classes. Starting freshman year, students have the opportunity to pick from many art classes, ranging from sculpture to photography, as well as a language. As a senior I was able to take two electives, Modern African History and Science Seminar, both of which have been meaningful extensions of my education, and I guarantee these courses would not be offered in the same way elsewhere. 

Finally, and in my opinion, most importantly, MICDS creates a mindset of intellectual growth that prepares students well for the next chapter of their life: college. As a freshman and sophomore, much of my effort was focused on getting good grades. But I then realized – as my work began to grow harder and it was becoming more difficult for me to maintain perfect grades – I needed to change my approach. I started to focus more on the process of learning and learning itself. I did things with the intention of learning more about the topic rather than finding the ways to get the A. 

As soon as I made that transition to developing my skills as a learner and maintaining a curiosity over all my content, my world immediately became better and healthier as a student. I still maintained good grades, but I found MICDS to be a place that encourages students to take advantage of opportunities not for grades, but for intellectual growth and love of learning. Even though I see myself as a science person, all of my classes became interesting, including English and history. I found ways to enjoy what I learned and to focus my success not on the tangible grade I received for it but on the process of work and mistakes made along the way. That way, nothing I did could be defined as a failure, and my mindset was focused on the improvement of my skills and preparing for college, and for life. 

With that kind of mindset, MICDS prepares students for college in a way many other schools cannot. Our college counseling staff also ensures that whatever you are interested in, whatever you are looking for in a college, you will find that. That doesn’t mean students are required to have a dream school or know what they want to be. MICDS prepares students to be successful no matter where they go. With the ability to tackle challenges head-on, realize which processes work and which don’t, and find ways to cope with mistakes, stay curious, and love to learn, there is no doubt in my mind that every student that graduates from MICDS is set to have a successful and exciting future!