8th Graders go to Westwood for Advanced Classes


Vedanti Patil

Yonnie Yang doing Algebra 2 homework. “I think I’m actually working harder this year,” Yang (8) said.

Education. Something that can change lives. For years, we’ve always been told to further our education, but it seems as if furthering your education can also hold back your education.

Students at Canyon Vista are given the opportunity to take a wide range of math classes. The levels of advancement are: On-level, Accelerated (math that is a year ahead of state standards), and TAG (math that is two years ahead of state standards). However, a select few students take math that is three years ahead and have to go to Westwood to take their math class. Students are also able to take a Science course that is one year ahead (Biology), meaning that they also need to go to Westwood. Students have the option of being able to do both if they can test out of certain middle school classes. Students go to Westwood on alternating days called “white days” and “orange days”. This is following Westwood’s block schedule, which has four 90-minute classes a day.

One might think that choosing these advanced classes would be beneficial, however, students do need to make sacrifices to pursue this higher education. To get a better understanding of this topic, we sat down with some Canyon Vista students who go to Westwood.

Eighth-graders who go to Westwood for their 8th period have to miss almost all of their 7th period just so they can take the bus to Westwood to arrive in time. This can cause problems when they have to catch up on the class they miss at home. An anonymous source (8) who goes to Algebra 2 has to miss Spanish 2 every other day – Spanish 2 is also another high school level course but it is offered in middle school.

“I guess the biggest challenge would be catching up on homework, especially since I’m missing Spanish 2, which is another language, which is kind of hard to catch up on. So I kind of have to sit myself through it and work with a reference, and just, like, catch up on stuff,” the anonymous source said. “It’s give or take. Kind of like, you have to, like, think about it. The ‘give’ part is you’re gonna go to a high school class, but you know, pros and cons.” 

One might think that the actual content covered in Westwood classes might be the most challenging part. However, according to Mrs. Amber Ramirez, the eighth graders’ math teacher at Westwood, that isn’t the part she feels is the hardest. 

“Well from experience, obviously, I have seen that y’all are actually a lot ahead of the 9th, 10th, or 11th graders.” Mrs. Ramirez said. “Do y’all have to work a little bit harder? Maybe pacing… I don’t know if pacing-wise middle school teachers are a bit slower, but maybe working hard in the sense of also just a new environment. I know for me, thinking back to when I was in eighth grade, having to come to Westwood, I didn’t know the school very well. I didn’t know the other people in my class.”

Despite the struggles students may face from missing their 7th period and going to Westwood, they argue that it is worth it. Yonnie Yang (8) goes to Westwood for Algebra 2, and she misses most of Art to go to Westwood.

“I don’t know if it [going to Westwood] would prepare me for high school but it’s gotten me more used to the high school environment and it puts into perspective a lot of things I heard, like, my middle school teachers say when they’re talking about, like preparing me for high school. And in some cases, I’m like, ‘oh, that really has helped me in this case,’” Yang said. “It has changed my views on certain things going on in middle schools. I think it would be more beneficial if we didn’t have to [miss a course] at all… but I think it sometimes actually motivates me to do more of my work since I have a more limited period of time – and I think I’m actually working harder this year for Art than I was last year. Since I’m more of a procrastinator, like, the fact that I have a deadline hanging over me kind of actually motivates me. I don’t think this is a bad experience at all, and I really enjoy the opportunity.”

I think that it becomes very stressful because we end up having a 9-hour day of just schooling.

— Shreyan Khanna

While missing classes can be challenging in your general academic life, there is a way to go to Westwood without having to miss your academic classes. If you decide to take both Biology and Algebra 2 in eighth grade and are placed into both, you do not miss any 7th period class since you go to Westwood on both white and orange days. However, this also has its challenges. Shreyan Khanna (8) goes to Westwood for both Algebra 2 and Biology.

“We take two classes, science, and math, so we don’t have a 7th or 8th period at Canyon Vista. So that way, right after lunch, we’ll wait for the bus, and then once the bus comes, we’ll just go and we don’t miss any classes.” Khanna said. “I think that it becomes very stressful because we end up having a 9-hour day of just schooling, and then a lot of work. We’re taking high school level classes so we’ll have a lot of work from that and US History.”

As more and more people take advanced classes, test out of courses, and stretch themselves as thin as possible, they unintentionally put more and more stress on themselves. Due to colleges becoming more and more selective, students often feel like making major sacrifices like this since they believe that is the only way they can seem academically appealing. When high school students were surveyed by NYU, nearly half of students reported that they felt a great deal of academic stress, and approximately one-third of students reported feeling somewhat stressed. About one-fourth of students reported symptoms of clinical depression. In this day and age, we seem to forget the importance of balancing our personal life and school life. A balance of both is the only way you can maintain a good school life. To any seventh graders reading this, if you wish to do Algebra 2 or Biology next year, then, by all means, do it. However, you should only do this if you feel like you are prepared to handle the material and are aware of the sacrifices that you may have to make because of it.