It’s no surprise that many students are nervous about starting sixth grade: Everyone knows that in middle school, classes get harder, social lives get more complicated, and bodies get weird.
But one organization is hoping to make the transition to middle school less overwhelming by inviting strangers to send sixth graders at a handful of New York City middle schools a few words of encouragement.
The project, launched by the non-profit ExpandED Schools, allows anyone to fill out a Mad Libs style webform that will deliver a sixth grader at one of five middle schools a tiny paper letter when they arrive at school in September.
Last year, the organization sent hundreds of letters. Some were practical — “Brush and floss your teeth.” Others were just plain earnest: “You’ve got to eat a peck of dirt before you die. (A peck is 2 gallons!) It means, it won’t hurt you to get dirty and explore.”
The group is soliciting notes of encouragement again this year, which will be sent to Tompkins Square Middle School, Renaissance School of the Arts and Thurgood Marshall Academy in Manhattan; The Urban Assembly Unison School in Brooklyn; and the Bronx’s Creston Academy.
And if you’re looking for a bit of extra inspiration, here are a few more words of wisdom sixth graders got last year.