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Julia Barnas, having completed her education at ASM in 2020, is now a thriving junior at Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, MA. We recently caught up with her to get insights into her high school journey. It is evident that her foundational years at ASM have played a significant role in shaping her into a self-assured individual, fully prepared to embrace the challenges of high school. Julia’s dedication to pushing her limits and working to her full potential is testament to the values instilled in her during her time at ASM. In our conversation, Julia talked about how her experiences at ASM have not only shaped her academic pursuits but also her personal growth, impacting her life as a high school student. 

Curious about her journey, we asked Julia a series of questions to learn how her experiences at ASM influenced her current successes and challenges in high school. 

How was your transition from Andover School of Montessori to high school?

I would describe my transition from ASM to high school as being practically seamless. Right from the start, I felt that I fit right into my course load of all honors classes, and in fact, I felt that I excelled in them. I did not struggle to create a new balance for managing larger amounts of homework because I had already learned all the fundamental time management skills from ASM, and I was able to make meaningful friendships too thanks to the great examples that were set for me at ASM. 

Describe your transition from a small school to a larger school with more students?

I think that the common belief about going to a very small middle school is that transitioning to a large high school is a big challenge. It was certainly a concern of mine going into high school. However, when I attended my school’s accepted students night and I finally got to see my class all together in one room, to my surprise I wasn’t nervous at all. I felt so at home with all of the other kids, and I found it easy to engage in conversation with them. From that night I was able to meet some girls who were going to be on my volleyball team, as well as many of the kids that would be in my classes that year. So, although the thought of moving from a graduating class of 6 kids, like mine, to a large high school of over 300 students may seem intimidating at first, the social skills that are taught at ASM will ensure that the transition goes seamlessly. 

How do you feel your ASM education prepared you for your future academic endeavors in high school?

I feel that ASM did an exceptional job at preparing me for my academic endeavors in high school, but I believe that the biggest thing that helped me was learning time management skills. At ASM, I believe that this is one of the first and most important skills that we get the ability to learn. Weekly advisory meetings with my teachers helped me create a plan for when I wanted to get my work done at home, so I was able to then create my own plan once I got older. I love to use my calendar app on my iPad to keep track of all my events and exams, and my reminders app for all my assignments, and I think it is because of the guidance and fundamental skills that were taught throughout each grade at ASM that I am able to accomplish these things now. 

Looking back at your time at ASM, what are some of the important lessons you learned and how have they helped you in high school?

Looking back at my time at ASM, I think one of the most important lessons I learned that has helped me is that you should always trust your academic abilities, and that if you believe you are capable of doing more, do more and chase after your goals. At ASM, there was no limit on how much we could learn. For example, in middle school, while all of us were learning the quadratic formula in math class, one of my friends was a little more advanced and had some questions on derivatives, which is a calculus topic. Rather than being told to stay on the same course as us, our teacher engaged in this conversation with him, and helped answer any questions he had about this topic, or any others he may have had. In this way I learned that if I wanted to learn more, there was always a way to, and I brought this with me into my high school experience. 

Are there any specific teachers, classes, or activities that had a significant impact on you at ASM?

I think that my middle school English teacher had the greatest impact on me. Not only because of how much she helped me improve my writing skills, but also because she was always there if I ever needed her emotionally. Unfortunately, I was not usually someone who sought help if I was having emotional struggles. However, although I’m not quite sure how, she always knew when I needed help and was alway there to provide me with the emotional support I needed as a young teen moving through middle school. I think it is so important that emotional and mental health are prioritized especially at the middle school level, because this is when you begin to learn about yourself and when you begin to encounter all these new challenges. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to have teachers like her in my life to help guide me through the challenge of middle school, and I believe every child deserves a teacher like her, as well as the rest of the ASM staff. 

What are your favorite subjects in high school?

My favorite subjects in high school are definitely math and sciences. This year I decided I was going to place a larger emphasis on them as well, and I decided to take AP Calculus BC, AP Statistics, as well as AP Physics 1. I love these subjects because I find that I can think of them like a puzzle. 

In what ways do you feel your time at ASM contributed to your personal growth and character development?

My time at ASM has contributed to my personal growth in so many ways, the main way being that I’ve learned how to make meaningful friendships. For example, I still spend time with the friends that I graduated with and the ones that were a year above me. Just this summer we all took a reunion trip to Boston by train, and we spent the day there together. 

What advice or suggestions would you offer to current students and their families to make the most of their time at ASM?

I think my best suggestions that I would offer to current students and families at ASM would be to learn how to manage your time, and to take advantage of everything that ASM has to offer. If you need help adjusting to the larger homework load of middle school, reach out to your teachers, and they will be happy to work with you to create a plan to accomplish all your work. Take advantage of the extensive STEM curriculum, the expertise of your teachers, and never stop asking questions. Because the more you put into your education at ASM, the more you will get out of it, and the more ahead you will be once you get to high school.