At many high schools, the transition between middle school and high school can be dramatic and difficult. Freshmen can feel lost at the bottom. At the MCDS 9th Grade Academy, every freshman has the support to shine. Freshmen begin their high school career with a three-day overnight retreat designed to build confidence, self-acceptance, and a communal appreciation for their fellow classmates. Freshmen have the opportunity to discover potential careers through career research and job shadowing experiences, and can explore their own leadership style while building community through a daily opportunity to work with Lower School students. Advisory sessions continue into tenth grade through graduation, with topics including life skills, service leadership, design thinking, stress management, and continued career and college research.