Preparing for High School

This page will help you think about the kinds of things you need to be doing and thinking about while in middle school to prepare for high school.

Is it normal to be nervous about going to high school?

Concerns/Challenges students may raise include

How can I make the transition from middle school to high school easier?

How can my friends make a difference in my education and my future?

What courses should I take in middle school that can help prepare me for high school?

Choosing the Right High School

Bridgeport High Schools

Bridgeport Public Schools Program of Studies 2013-14

New Haven High Schools


Is it normal to be nervous about going to high school?
Yes, many students are nervous about going from middle school to high school. This can be a very exciting time because you’re growing up! At the same time, many students have concerns about all of the changes that are taking place in their lives.  Lots of times when we are in a new situation, we feel like we are the only one who may be a little nervous, but most of the time everyone has at least one thing they’re worried about.  In fact, there are some pretty common things that kids worry about when getting ready to go to high school. Some of those concerns are listed below, but don’t worry if your concern isn’t on the list, there are plenty of other kids who’ve been nervous and still made it through. You’re not alone!

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Concerns/Challenges students may raise include:

  • Fitting in
  • Getting up on time
  • New responsibilities
  • Making mistakes
  • Not feeling smart enough
  • Interacting with new peers
  • New teachers
  • Keeping track of your class schedule
  • Learning new school rules
  • Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of school work
  • Peer pressure
  • Finding your way around the school
  • Getting bullied by other students

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How can I make the transition from middle school to high school easier?
The thing is, the transition to high school is not unlike other adjustments you’ve already made.  For example, maybe you were nervous when you moved to a new neighborhood, or on the first day participating on a sports team. There are things you can do to make any transition easier, like planning ahead. Below are several things you can do to ease the transition to high school.

  • Know that it’s normal to find some aspects of the transition difficult. You’re not alone!
  • Anticipate that at some point in time everyone may have a difficult time. If you’re expecting that things won’t always be “rosy” it makes it easier to face your problem.
  • Develop strategies for dealing with current and future difficulties. If you think about where you can turn for help before a problem occurs, that will make it easier to ask for help.
  • Talk to a Guidance Counselor or teacher. They’ve seen lots of students who have had difficulty over the years, so they’re a good source of ideas and can connect you with support and resources.
  • Get support from your parents. If they can’t help you directly, they can help you figure out who can.
  • It’s important to let someone know you’re having trouble. You don’t have to go through this alone! Even if it’s another student, having that support can make all the difference in the world.
  • Get connected to your school. Students who feel more connected to their school typically do better in school. Get involved in a club, get involved in a sports team, meet new friends, try to get to know some of your teachers – these are all ways you can feel more connected to your school.

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How can my friends make a difference in my education and my future?
An important part of your transition to high school that will have a significant impact on your academic goals are the choices you make regarding friends. Sometimes it’s not even individual friends we have, but the groups we associate with who make the difference. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your friendship groups:

  • Do these groups see academic excellence as an important value? 
  • In what way do members of these groups behave that would give you insight as to the value placed on education?  (e.g., consistent school attendance, studying regularly, performance in school, involvement in extra curricular activities)
  • Do these behavior(s) promote or hinder their ability to be successful in school?
  • What kind of relationship do these groups have with teachers, counselors, or important other adults? What impact do these behaviors have on their short  and long term educational goals?
  • When you consider the peer group to which you find yourself most closely connected, are the perceived values presented by your classmates of this group consistent with your own personal values?
  • To what extent do you believe your personal values are influenced by the peers with whom you associate?
  • Are the values held by the group consistent with the values of your family or extended family?  The values of the larger community?

The idea is to establish a peer network that shares similar values and expectations about  academics and future aspirations. Some students will find that their support network may actually include youth from multiple peer groups. Sorting out who you connect with, both within and between peer groups is the tricky part. Honoring your personal and family values will help guide you in your decision making.

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What courses should I take in middle school that can help prepare me for high school?
College may seem like a long way off, but you can get on the road toward college now. This is particularly true as you select your classes and start planning the courses you’ll take in high school. Now is the time to plan how to meet requirements to get into college. Studies show that if students take algebra and geometry early – starting in 8th and 9th grade – they are more likely to go on to college than students who don’t. By taking algebra soon, you’ll probably be able to enroll in chemistry, physics and advanced math courses before you finish high school. Then you will have room in your high school schedule to take a second language, art, or Advanced Placement course. Making good grades in these kinds of tough courses can be a big plus in helping you get into college.

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Choosing the Right High School
Below are links to the public high schools in Bridgeport and New Haven. Some things you might want to consider when choosing a high school include:

  • Where did my brothers and sisters go to school?
  • How many students do I want to go to school with?
  • What kinds of extracurricular activities (e.g., sports, clubs) do the different schools offer?
  • What kind of academic programs (e.g., science, technology, arts) do the different schools offer?
  • Are there any academic requirements for attending the various schools (e.g., high grade point average, Algebra in 8th grade), and if so, do I meet them?
  • Can anyone get into all the schools, or is there some kind of admissions process or lottery system for getting into the schools?

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Bassick High School
The mission of Bassick High School is to provide the opportunity for every student to acquire knowledge, skills and self-esteem in a supportive setting. We strive to provide a safe environment for students and staff. We recognize and respect the individuality of our students. We encourage them to enhance their quality of life and to contribute to society, becoming lifelong learners. Students are provided with a program of educational opportunities and relevant technology that will guide them in the selection of and preparation for a chosen career path. We are committed to meeting the needs of all learners by improving their verbal and written communication, problem solving, critical-thinking and leadership skills.

The Business Magnet Program is designed to prepare students who are interested in pursuing a career in business, such as accounting, information technology, entrepreneurship, and international business.  This program is part of Bassick’s School-To-Career Program, which gives students the opportunity to participate in the Business Education Tech-Prep Program.  Successful completion of tech-prep courses allows the students to earn college credit from Sacred Heart University toward an Associate of Arts Degree in Business.  The courses offered are enhanced business courses. The Bassick High School Business Magnet Program is a four-year program. 

Bridgeport Regional Vocational Aquaculature School
The facility provides students with specialized laboratories and classrooms that compliment the marine-related curriculum of the school. Examples include a pathology lab, an aquaculture finfish/shellfish lab, an indoor boat shop, a marine propulsion and electronics lab, a computer-assisted design and drafting lab and a meteorology classroom. The school also contains a modern telecommunications system capable of several educational functions including a computer network, a classroom satellite communication system, and a remote visual display system. 

In addition, the school has a 56-foot research vessel, the Catherine Moore. The boat has the capability  for classroom instruction, boat navigation  and fishing operations to occur simultaneously. The activities aboard the Catherine Moore provide students with the opportunity to conduct marine biology, chemistry and ecological experiments, to engage in commercial fishing techniques and learn on-board navigation and marine electronic communication techniques. To compliment the Catherine Moore, the school also has a 25-foot work boat and access to the boats of the Aquaculture Foundation, including the John E. Pfreim and the Black Pearl.

Central High School
The mission of Central High School is to encourage students to pursue academic excellence. We strive to develop the unique talents of each student and are committed to promoting social and civic responsibility.

The Magnet High School functions as a school within Central High School. Geared toward the academically motivated student, the Magnet Program functions in an environment of high motivation and creativity. Students follow a rigorous program of studies. In the last four years we have added Inter-Disciplinary Studies, Environmental Studies, Japanese and Chinese to our curriculum offerings. Magnet students also participate in the Regional Aquaculture School, the Bassick Business Magnet School and the Regional Program for the Arts.

Fairchild Wheeler Interdistrict Magnet The mission of Fairchild Wheeler is to create a culture for passionate investigators to develop solutions for the global community.

3 schools make up this interdisctict magnet high school:

Information Technology and Software Engineering High School
Students who select this theme will be engaged in the application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the design, development, operation and maintenance of software for careers in such fields as science modeling, gaming, animation, simulation and theater arts.
Principal: Victor Black, Ed.D

Zoological Science, Research and Biotechnology High School
Science for research in partnership with Beardsley Zoo and local universities on the study of amphibians, for example, will be a focus. Curriculum will be designed to heighten an awareness of the environment and to stimulate a passion to develop solutions for environmental preservation. Use of the school's natural settings will enhance laboratory and classroom instruction.
Principal: Michael Watson, Ed.D

Physical Sciences, Engineering and Aerospace/Hydrospace Science High School
In this STEM-based program, students will learn the practical application of science and math to solve problems. Learning to use software, interacting with regional industry and collaborating with state and local universities, students will research, design and develop creative solutions for exploration and discovery.
Principal: Jay Lipp

Harding High School
Mission Statement: Warren Harding High School believes that all students can succeed. We believe in the value of education as a tool for academic and personal growth and for career preparation.

The Harding Medical Careers Magnet is the high school magnet for students who are desirous of pursuing a career in the health field. It is a high academic program with a concentration on the sciences. Our students are exposed to many career opportunities in the health field and are able to be certified in CPR / First Aid, as EMT's and Certified Nursing Assistants. They make many visitations to hospitals and other health sites as well as do two marking periods of job "shadowing." Magnet students have a challenging academic program of studies which include Medical Careers, 5 years of science, and SAT prep. Electives offered to them are Advanced Placement Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, EMT, Nursing Assistant and Pharmacy Tech. Available to our students are courses for college credit courses that include Tech Prep Anatomy and Physiology, Tech Prep Chemistry, and Advanced Placement Biology. Students may also take the Advanced Placement in English. Eighth grade students must complete an application by December of the preceding year of entry and participate in an interview, which is usually scheduled for the spring.

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Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School
Connecticut’s only full-time visual and performing arts high school. Special features of the Co-op include the Independent Study & Seminar Program (ISSP); national student organizations, such as the National Honor Society and National Art Honor Society; Visiting and Performing Artist Master Classes; Guest Lecture Series; and weekly enrichment activities designed to inspire students to attain their fullest potential. The entire arts community of Greater New Haven has established a working relationship with the school. These collaborations have provided unique opportunities for staff and students to have access to many of their facilities and programs. Many courses are taught at these locations.

High School in the Community
HSC is a regional magnet high school serving the entire Greater New Haven area. It is a faculty-run school. The establishment of friendly relationships between students and teachers is an essential feature of the school. HSC seeks to develop students into critical thinkers, effective communicators, life long learners and responsible citizens. HSC has adopted the following goals to facilitate this process: Small school enrollment; Diverse student body; Effective multicultural and multiethnic work groups; Problem-solving skills to increase and utilize reading, writing, communication and computation; Computer literacy through the use of the highest level of technology-rich education; Community volunteerism and relating that work to what is learned in school; Self-confidence to take academic, social, and career risks; Strong relationships that incorporate the local, national and global communities.

Hillhouse High School
It is the mission of James Hillhouse High School to graduate students prepared for success in a world of increasing diversity, technological change and global challenges.  Our task as educators, community members, parents and students is to create an environment in which all students have the opportunity to reach their greatest academic potential and to facilitate their growth as responsible and respectful members of society.

The Center for Fine Arts

The Center for Fine Arts will encourage participants to develop a sense of creative expression and aesthetic awareness.  Students will be able to demonstrate the basic processes and techniques in production and exhibition.  Through this fine arts curriculum, students will explore a variety of career opportunities and develop a life-long commitment to the arts. 

Business and Finance

In this academy students develop a foundation in the economical, financial, technological, international, social, and ethical aspects of business to become competent consumers, employees and entrepreneurs in both domestic and international areas. Students enhance reading, writing, computing, communications, critical thinking and reasoning skills and apply them to the global business environment. Students interact with the computer to create documents, gather information and solve problems. Students implement personal and interpersonal skills to strengthen individual performance in the workplace and in society to make successful transition to the workforce and/or post-secondary education. Job possibilities: administrative assistant, tax technician, , executive, sales manager, financial manager, securities broker, underwriter, public accountant, financial analyst, entrepreneur, and insurance occupations.

Government, Education and Human Services

This academy exposes students to careers in public, private and social services. Job possibilities: teachers, educational administrators, political officeholders, government service workers, social workers, psychologists, librarians, Police and firemen, legal professions, child services worker, parent educator, disability specialist, employment and training counselor, urban/regional planner, parole and probation officer, public administrator.

Health and Biosciences

The Health and Biosciences Academy explores careers in a wide range of health-care settings, such as hospitals, medical laboratories, and medical and dental practices. Possible career explorations include industries in research and pharmacology. Job Possibilities: doctor, registered nurse, physical therapy assistant, laboratory technician, home health care workers, laboratory technician, pharmacist, speech pathologist, health care executive, family practitioner, internist, EMT technician, DNA analyst, forensic technician, phlebotomist, physicians assistant.

Technology Education

The Technology Education Academy is a comprehensive action-based educational program concerned with technical means, their evolution, utilization and significance with industry, its organization, personnel systems, techniques, resources and products; and their social/cultural impact. The primary goal is to prepare youth for the world in which we live. This enables them to enter the "real world" when they leave formal education prepared to become contributing, knowledgeable and successful members of our technological society. Students in this academy will investigate and examine the four major broad content areas in Technology Education: Energy, Power and Transportation; Communication; Construction; and Manufacturing. Students studying in these areas develop the technological literacy necessary for global survival through research, design, and solutions of real world technical problems. Job possibilities: various construction positions, robotics, research and design, computer aided design, transportation, energy and manufacturing.

Hill Regional Career High School
The Career High School was created in 1983 with a program focused on exposing students to career opportunities in the fields of health, business and computer technology. Since its inception, more than 2,200 students have benefited from Career’s specialized curricula, partnerships with neighboring universities, businesses and committed faculty and parents. Career is home to a rich variety of inner city and urban students from all of New Haven’s neighborhoods and surrounding towns. Career High School has been named one of 20 exemplary alternative schools by Phi Lambda Kappa, a national education fraternity.

Hyde Leadership School
Hyde Leadership is unique because it is the only “Character First” school in the Greater New Haven area. Our focus is to provide a challenging environment for each student and family to promote self-discovery, life-long learning and the development of character. Our primary goal is to prepare all students for college. This is evident in that for the third consecutive year, 100% of graduating seniors (the class of 2004) have been accepted to an institution of higher learning. Two thirds of this class has been accepted to a four-year college and one third of the class has been accepted into a two-year college or institution. In this pursuit, we also prepare all students for life. Our expectation is that all students will graduate from Hyde able to answer the following four essential questions: Who are you? For what do you stand? Where are you going with your life? and How are you going to get there? The core of our philosophy is based on five words: Courage, Concern, Curiosity, Leadership and Integrity, as well as five principles; Destiny: Each of us is gifted with a unique potential, Humility: We trust in a power and purse beyond ourselves, Conscience: We attain our best through character and conscience, Truth: Truth is our primary guide and Brother’s Keeper: We help others achieve their best. At Hyde Leadership School, we strive to reflect these principles in all facets of our program.

Metropolitan Business High School
The mission of the Metropolitan Business High School is to provide opportunities for integrating academic and occupation related instruction in the area of entrepreneurial arts and sciences. The goal is to prepare its students to manage and own business enterprises in a 21st century global economy. Students will gain an understanding of successful business practices including finance, investment, research and development, quality control, growth, sales and returns of investments. It is a theme high school in which students stay with a group of teachers over integrated curriculum cycles to create a supportive learning environment. Partnerships and mentor programs with local businesses and employers will provide connections between school and work.

Riverside Education Academy High School
Riverside, though no longer an alternative high school, still embraces many of our former elements of success that set us apart from the New Haven Public Schools. One such strategy is that of one-on-one personal interviews prior to admittance. Parents, guardians and students meet with the principal in a productive dialogue, wherein students are not only appraised of the rules and regulations, but they sign off in formal acceptance. Small class settings provide teachers the opportunity to implement varied strategies to promote learning. Direct instruction has served to meet the needs of reluctant learners. We stand as proud endorsers of NHPS Five Bold Goals with a beautiful mural depicting those goals and symbolizing our commitment to attainment of each. Our involvement with the on-site Community Support Services Team affords us the unique opportunity to promote success with augmented psychological, social and career guidance.

Sound School
The Sound School offers an educational opportunity unique in New Haven and in the United States. Its multi-building facility is located on the waterfront on Long Island Sound, an ideal setting for the marine orientation of this regional vocational aquaculture program. The Sound School is a comprehensive high school with a focus on aquaculture and the marine sciences. The Sound School education program prepares students for college, technical schools or for entering employment upon graduation. The water program includes learning to sail 16-foot sharpies, recently acquired JY15s, having classes on the 90-foot schooner "Quinnipiack," and rowing in our 16-foot dories. Aquaculture production, nautical drafting, boat building, fisheries gear technology, natural resources management, environmental appreciation, vessel handling and safety at sea, and community service are several of the topics that students may select to study.

Wilbur Cross High School and Annex
Wilbur Cross High School has a student body of over 1600 students. The unique student body draws from all over New Haven and from suburban communities through Project Choice. Conflict resolution and mediation are used to teach students how to solve differences in a constructive manner. Our ninth grade cluster program provides entering freshmen an opportunity for easier transition into the large high school setting by breaking their class into teams that remain together for the four academic core classes (English, Social Studies, Math and Science). In addition, all freshmen participate in a seminar program to orient them to high school and introduce them to careers. The sophomore cluster teams remain together for two academic core classes, English and History. Our students are involved in the Choate Summer Program; Southern Connecticut Language and Culture Exposure Program; New Haven-Yale Saturday Seminars; New England Board of Higher Education’s Science, Engineering and Mathematics Conference; and the Harvard-Biomedical Science Careers Student Conference. Cross offers a College Before College Program that enables students to take college courses during their junior and senior years.

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