Skip To Main Content

Main Header Container

Landing Nav


Parent Perspective: Highlands Middle School Lives Up to the Hype

Parent Perspective: Highlands Middle School Lives Up to the Hype
Dr. Henna Budhwani shares her perspective on her sons' first week of Middle School at Highlands. 
Week 1 is done, and there is indeed magic in the middle.

As a lower grades parent, we hear about the magic that occurs in the Highlands Middle School program, but – speaking for myself – I did not understand what I was being told, because I had no context. I am here to say, that the 6th grade Middle School program does indeed live up to the hype.

Do I understand Advisory fully? Nope, but I know that I have a penguin and a narwhal who feel immensely supported. Ms. Roberts and Mr. Nickell have made it abundantly clear that I am no longer in charge of my children’s paths, but that my children need to lead from here on out. Conferences will be led by Khidr and Brahma - no longer by Karim and Henna. In fact, I made the naive mistake of sitting in the spinney chair next to Mr. Nickell at our first conference and was firmly but politely told that chair was for Khidr, as the man of the hour. Rock on Advisory, rock on. I expect that Advisory - cohorts comprised of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders who come together to support one another and compete against other Advisories - will be one of my children’s favorite experiences of 6th grade.
Next, electives. Middle School students get to pick their own electives. How did I not know that? Band. Art. Math Team. Painting. Crafting with Ding Lǎoshī was in hot demand because who doesn’t love Lan Lan? Agriscience. Scholars Bowl. So many choices. My boys requested Junior United Nations Assembly of Alabama (JUNA). JUNA is where global citizens are made. Brahma will be working on a proposal to address child labor in the Democratic Republic in Congo, and Khidr will be exposing the underbelly of fast fashion in Bangladesh. Both will be working in teams comprised of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, similar to Advisory, just with different kids
Student Council
In 6th grade, enter Student Council or StuCo. Each classroom has a representative, and students must run for the chance to represent their peers about very important topics such as the candy selection during Fizzy Friday. Movie night decisions? StuCo. Gym night? StuCo. StuCo is very much a core component of the Highlands Middle School experience. To become a StuCo classroom representative, candidates write and deliver a speech to their classmates, and then voting happens. Two victors emerge. Congratulations Ben and Skyler! Be noble leaders and carry the messages from the 6th grade honorably. My boys, as many of their other classmates, ran for the position. In the first week of Middle School, they learned to write a campaign speech, deliver it with confidence, and support their new representatives. The amount of learning in this single process was enormous.
2nd Grade Buddies 
Although Brahma and Khidr do not remember having a buddy when they were in 2nd grade (of course they had them), they now have been given the responsibility of molding the young minds of 2nd graders, specifically three 2nd graders across the two of them. Khidr and his buddy read Bad Guys. Brahma has two buddies, one who wanted to read a two-hundred-page princess book and the other who wanted to play baseball. I laugh at the visual of my pre-teen navigating those requests, but in caring for 2nd graders, my 6th graders are learning about being gracious and nurturing those younger than themselves. What an awesome opportunity.
There was so much more that occurred last week. Lunch is at a new time. The Middle School kids have privileged access to buildings. The cubbies are back; 6th graders have a home for their books and binders. Shout out to Mr. Brad for working some Chromebook magic this week, to Ms. Scoggins for having a conversation about the best restaurants in Birmingham, to Ms. Shara for the most-gracious JUNA-related communications, and to the whole Middle School team for being outstanding educational guides during our first week back.

Adolescence is a tough time, but Highlands has been masterful in how they’ve set up the 6th grade experience. Well done, Team Highlands - y’all truly make the magic happen.

The mother of a narwhal and a penguin
Dr. Henna Budhwani is a Professor of Nursing at the Florida State University and directs the Intervention Research and Implementation Science (IRIS) lab; she is married to Dr. Karim Budhwani, CEO of elixir international and CerFlux. Together they have twin boys in the sixth grade: Brahma Mubarak and Khidr Kishan. Dr. Budhwani was previously a Highlands Parents Auxiliary Grade Level Representative, was involved the school’s merchandising efforts, and can occasionally be seen on campus in a Pikachu onesie
Highlands School

Recent Highlands School News