I think this is my favorite letter that I've written to you so far. As you turn 12 today, I will remember this year as the year you became you. I reread my last letter to you before writing this one, and at the time I was so worried about the pending move to middle school - the academics, the social pressures, finding the right school, meeting new friends. All my anxieties were wasted. You have thrived in middle school. I can't think of a time when I've seen you happier. You are confident, self-assured, happy, and love the you that you've found inside.
You are at a wonderful middle school. It is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) school, and much smaller than many of the middle schools near us. It has such a neat campus. There are 8 buildings, so you get a breath of fresh air each time you change classes. There are picnic tables for eating lunch outside too. You came home the very first day of school with a huge smile on your face and declared, "Band is my favorite class!" That sentiment hasn't changed at all since the first day. You initially chose band because you deemed it the least offensive of the elective options. You weren't interested in any of them, and band was somehow the least undesirable. What a great decision that turned out to be. You come home every day from school and immediately pull out your clarinet to start practicing. Your dad and I had been anticipating all sorts of nagging to get you to practice your instrument. Instead, we find ourselves having to tell you to stop practicing to ensure you have time for the rest of your homework.
As for academics, I think school has finally "clicked" for you. You are more organized, dedicated, and committed to doing well. You are keeping up with your assignments and doing so much better in middle school than you ever did in elementary. I think the higher demands and increase in responsibilities forced you to grow up and rise up to the expectations. I couldn't be more thrilled with your school performance so far. I know you are proud of yourself too, as you should be. You've come a long way.
Where you have really blossomed this year is in your personal life. You have a great gang of friends and have found your niche socially. In elementary school, none of the cliques really fit with your personality. You had friends but not best friends. Now, you have it all. You are enjoying the attention from boys and your self-esteem has soared. You come home every day with tales of funny antics with friends in the cafeteria or a boy who flirted with you on the bus. The move to middle school has done wonders for you.
Band is your new found love, but you are still very active with your jump rope team. Over the past year, you have done performances at NCSU and Virginia Tech as well as many performances at festivals, schools, and parades. Despite dealing with a broken ankle for a big chunk of the season, you kept going to practice, working on rope release skills and double dutch turning. You are definitely dedicated to your sport.
At the end of the year jump rope team party, your squad was awarded the coveted squad cup, and you received the "Cool as a Cucumber" paper plate award. The paper plate awards are just a bit of fun that the team captains do for the end of the year, but I thought it was neat that they described you as cool, calm, and someone who always helped others work through their conflicts.
Girl Scouts is still a part of your life as well, but you have definitely scaled back your participation. This past year, your troop put on the area Cookie Rally for younger scouts and took a trip to Earthshine Mountain where you participated in all sorts of great adventures - a high ropes course, low ropes course, zip lining through the treetops, and survival exercises. I love the teamwork skills and independence you gain through scouts. I hope you will stick with it even as it becomes less and less "cool" the older you get.
If we were to ask anyone one word that best describes you, they would probably say "reader." You spent the entire day yesterday reading Divergence by Veronica Roth from start to finish. Some of your favorites lately have been the Matched series by Ally Condie and the Tunnels series by Gordon Roderick. You never leave the house without a book.
These letters that I write to you and your sisters are usually filled with a bit of good, a bit of not-so-good, proud moments, struggles, and my bit of commentary on all of it. I feel like this letter is heavily weighted toward the good and the moments of pride, but that is honestly how this year has been. You've gone from a slightly insecure girl who struggled with school and friendships to a fun, outgoing, happy girl, full of energy and great friends. I know the teenage years will bring about lots of ups and downs, but for now, we are rejoicing in what has been a great year for you. As peer relationships get more confusing, seeds of self-doubt begin to be planted, and you start to wonder how you will survive being a teenager, I hope you will remember this year, remember how great it felt to be a sixth grader, and keep those feelings in your heart.
I love you. Happy 12th!