News from AMS

March 23, 2023

Why are Kids So Unhappy?

For years now, we have been hearing about (and experiencing) a mental health crisis in kids of all ages. My wife works with 4-7 year old children, and even at that young age, she sees mental health challenges like anxiety and depression emerging. At the middle and high school level, of course, we see it most intensely as the teen years have always been tough, even in the best of times. But most of us wonder, “why is it so difficult for young people today?” They have more “stuff" than previous generations; they don’t have to work as hard; they have more opportunities, etc.

While those things are true on the surface, I believe it has never been so difficult to be a teenager, and after many years working with kids and reading the work of experts on the subject, I believe this because of a complex mixture of factors:

1. Families are less together and have less time to instill and model manners and boundaries.

2. The social media world has roped our kids in – many of them are completely drawn to their phones and devices, which send them information all day long. Much of that information is negative.

3. Inactivity and Poor nutrition – many of our kids spend a ton of time in their room, looking at a screen. They can become exercise and sunlight deficient.

4. Opposite of the above, some kids are overly scheduled. They are on multiple teams, plus other activities, plus academics. It leaves little free time for family and friends or to just “be a kid.”

5. Not enough emphasis on helping others. The message our kids often get about the world is that it is “dog eat dog.” Take care of yourself and don’t trust anyone else. Meanwhile, the #1 way to increase self-esteem and happiness is to serve others.

I realize as I write this that I am starting to sound like my father, but I worry if technology and social media continue to evolve in ways that even more strongly influence our kids, we may never see a mentally healthy generation again.

Still, there is hope! Psychologists agree that we can help by:

1. Being sure our kids clearly understand right from wrong and the importance of having good manners

2. Clearly and regularly pointing out all the things to be grateful for – modeling gratitude ourselves

3. Monitoring phone use consistently

4. Encouraging free time and outdoor activities

5. Trying to provide opportunities for acts of kindness

It is so hard out there right now. People everywhere are breaking down due to life’s stresses. I think it is as important as anything we will ever do that we try to break this stressful cycle for our kids. I know this – if we can’t help our kids understand how to create their own happiness and cope better with life’s stresses, math, science, English and history won’t matter very much.

Please always know that we are here for you as a resource. My staff and I are not all-knowing, and we struggle with our own children at home, too. But our experience in working with this age group may be helpful. Please reach out if you ever need to talk something through.

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"Psychology and the Good Life"

Yale University is a pretty good school. Good enough that I certainly could never have come close to being accepted there. For like 300 years, there have been hundreds of thousands of really smart people walking the hallways on its campus. But the most popular, sought-after class it has ever offered to students has just been created in recent years. It is called Psychology and the Good Life, and it is all about understanding happiness.

Recently, the course has been retooled for teens, and it is being offered free of charge for a limited time. I have included the link below. Keep in mind, it is a six-week course and has actual requirements. But it may be something your child finds helpful. I believe it would be better for our older students as it is geared toward the teenage brain.

New Trimester

The 3rd Trimester began on Monday March 20. This means that some students began new unified arts courses. It also means that grades for trimester 2 are now closed and will be finalized and viewable in Power School by the end of the day on Friday March 24.

If you would like a paper copy of your child's report card, please request one by emailing:


If you have any questions about grades, please contact either the specific subject teacher or your child's guidance counselor (Contact information below).

Contact Information

Here's a picture of my college graduate, high school sophomore and 11 year old dog. Time is flying by...let's make the most of it.

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Upcoming Important Dates / Events

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Criteria for Grade 7 & 8 Accelerated Courses

In Auburn, Grade 7 is the first time in a student's educational years when accelerated courses are a possibility. Most of us remember the schools of our youth, when it seemed like if you didn't get into the top level classes (which I didn't), you had less of a chance at future success. That did not prove to be true then, and it's not true now either. The fact is, we have students who become incredibly successful in high school and beyond regardless of the "level" of classes they take in middle school.

However, we do want to be able to offer courses that challenge all students to reach their peak, and there are some students who benefit from a more aggressively paced class. Because of that, we offer Accelerated English / language arts in Grades 7 and 8 as well as Accelerated Math in Grade 7 and Algebra 1 in Grade 8.

We consider multiple data points when making our placement decisions. The information we consider includes, but is not limited to:

  • Current Year Overall Grades in ELA and Math

  • Quiz / Test Average

  • Performance on Skills Reviews (given late in the year)

  • Most recently available MCAS results

  • Academic and social maturity - this could mean the student consistently completes work, asks for help when needed, good work habits, doesn't give up when frustrated, respects the teacher and other students, etc.

The teachers take a lot of time considering recommendations that will put their students in the best possible position to succeed the following year. They really do a great job with this.

More information will be forthcoming from the teachers, but if you have questions about this process, please start by asking the subject specific teacher and/or Mr. Desto.

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Thank you for all your support!