Why a Stand-Alone Middle School?

The capacity to learn will never be greater than in adolescence
— National Institutes of Health
I am glad that we chose a middle school for our son. He changed so much over those three years. The school we would have chosen when he was an entering 6th grade would not have worked for the person he became. His growth was far greater than I could have predicted.
— Patti Pearce (Colin, 2008)

Early adolescence is pivotal in human development. Brain development, including cognitive and social-emotional functioning, is happening at an intense and rapid pace during early adolescence, so much so that it rivals brain development at ages two to four.

The neurological changes are dramatic. How a child will respond to stress, manage their impulses, empathize with others, reason, and think, for the rest of their lives, is being hardwired during this crucial time.

We believe this time should be recognized for what it is: a truly pivotal moment in a child’s development.

At Billings we are exclusively focused on the middle school child. Our faculty specializes in teaching that strangely wonderful being that is the middle school student. Middle school is not simply a transition from elementary to high school; it is a special journey in itself.

At Billings, children have the ability to grow, take social risks, and try out their new and growing ability to think critically and abstractly, in a safe environment that is devoted to them – and without the added pressure or scrutiny of much older students.

Further, even when a middle school student has an outstanding experience, they still often want the ability to reinvent themselves in high school.


We understand that applying to middle school can be grueling. The prospect of doing it again for high school in three years can be daunting. Here is what is different:

First, our staff and faculty take a very active role in high school counseling. You are not alone and will find our experience with the process extremely helpful.

Second, our students leave Billings very prepared for high school. They are admitted to all of the great high schools in the area, public and private.

Third, the student will have grown cognitively and socially in three years.  Our alum families report that their student was able to take much more responsibility in the process. 

Lastly, they will have to do this, with even more weight of responsibility, in four years when they apply to colleges. Applying for high school is really good practice.