Eighth grade -- especially the last couple of months -- is a giddy time for some kids. They're the oldest (and hence, coolest) in the school, and they take any opportunity to lord this fact over anyone they deem to be beneath them (that's, like, you know, everyone). But when September rolls around, they discover pretty quickly how demoralizing it can be to plummet from head of the pack to bottom of the barrel. For this and the other reasons we've just discussed, many kids find themselves floundering in ninth grade. Some schools have tried to combat this phenomenon by separating freshman from the crowd just a little bit -- they institute "ninth grade academies" or smaller class sizes to maintain some of that middle-school feeling for a while longer.