Preparing for Middle School

For incoming sixth-graders, making the leap from elementary to middle school is a big deal. The school might be bigger, there will be many new faces and the rigor of academics starts to ramp up. These things could be nerve-wracking for your budding middle schooler, but remember, those nerves can be partly attributed to excitement for new-found independence, the beginnings of new and wonderful relationships and all kinds of new opportunities to immerse themselves in student-life.

We spoke to Doug Varley, Assistant Principal at Mazzuchelli Catholic Middle School, to get the scoop on the most common concerns of incoming sixth-graders (and their parents) as well as his reassurances. Feeling prepared will stave off those dreaded, “I forgot to wear pants!” dreams.

  • According to Mr. Varley, the two most common concerns expressed by incoming sixth-graders are, “I won’t be able to get my locker open” and “I’ll get lost.”  These fears will disappear quickly after the first day of school.  Nevertheless, families are welcome to make a visit to the school during the summer to familiarize themselves with the building.  Students will be relieved to find out that at Mazzuchelli Catholic, most of their classrooms are right next to each other.  Low-pressure orientation sessions will be held two days before school begins, at which time students will get their locker assignment.  Students are welcome to take as much time as they need that day to acclimate to the surroundings and practice opening lockers, if necessary.
  • Incoming sixth-graders are the youngest students in the building.  There is no need to fear the upper classmen!  Our tradition and culture at Mazzuchelli Catholic are such that we have never had problems between the grade levels.  Interaction with high school students is very limited because they are located in a different part of the building.
  • Falling through the cracks. Once the school year begins, all grade-level teachers will meet for 45 minutes each day to discuss students and curriculum.  They will submit a written report of their daily discussion to the administration, so nobody in our school ever “falls through the cracks.”
  • Students who come to Mazzuchelli from a Holy Family elementary school will benefit from our “system-thinking” academic program.  All our schools are effectively connected, so we know how to best meet student needs.  We also strive to make sure that students who come to Mazzuchelli from outside the system are made to feel welcome from the first day, onward.
  • School can be challenging.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Teachers are intentionally making things challenging, but they are also committed to helping students face and overcome those challenges.
  • Finally, for parents:  Trust and be willing to let go a little bit more each year.  Children will sense that you trust them and that you trust the school. They, in turn, will become more trusting and trustworthy as they progress toward adulthood.

Welcome to Mazzuchelli Catholic Middle School!

Bonus tips from the Principal: Familiarize yourself with our student management system PowerSchool as this becomes the source of tracking student success and need. This should be checked about every one to two weeks, with an extra check when grade reports are coming up. Also, while it is important to start thinking seriously about grades now, middle school grades are not part of a student’s permanent transcript unless they are taking Geometry or Algebra II.

Doug Varley has been the Assistant Principal and Activities Director at Mazzuchelli Catholic Middle School since its inception in 2005.  He is also the Head Coach for Men’s Track & Field at Wahlert Catholic High School.  Prior to the opening of Mazzuchelli, Mr. Varley taught English for 19 years at the junior high and high school levels, including over a decade at Wahlert from 1994-2005.  He is a graduate of Wahlert Catholic and of Loras College.  Mr. Varley and his wife, Becky (who currently teaches Spanish at Wahlert Catholic), have three children who all attended Mazzuchelli and graduated from Wahlert.

– Mr. Varley

By the end of eighth grade, every Mazzuchelli Catholic Middle School student will have completed 100 hours of pre-engineering coursework through Gateway to Technology.  As a 1:1 computing school, every student receives a laptop for their 24/7 use throughout middle school.  With smaller than average class sizes, students receive the attention they deserve to achieve their top potential.  Click here to request information or schedule a personal tour or student shadow day at Mazzuchelli Catholic Middle School.

Contact Us

Holy Family Catholic Schools
2005 Kane St., Dubuque IA 52001
(563) 582-5456