My four kids all attended the same school between ES and HS, but it was a 7-8 JHS for my older two and a 6-7-8 MS for my younger two - over the strong objections of the parents in the attendance area. Apparently, the county required that a parent survey be done prior to the change but was not required to pay any attention to the results.
For my older kids, the JHS school had a strong academic focus and my kids and their friends LOVED the fact that the artsy/crafty, touchy/feely stuff had pretty much disappeared. Lots of girls who always had As in ES because they did lots of nice artwork were suddenly getting Bs and lots of boys who rarely got As in ES because they didn't care about pretty (or dioramas) were getting As because the correct answer was the main focus.
Three years later, when my third child entered the MS as a 6th-grader, the whole focus of the school had changed. The academic focus was GONE (even though many of the same teachers remained), replaced by teams, group-work and NEST (nurture, encourage, support and trust, I think). NEST was 20 minutes of daily torture; touchy/feely navel-gazing under the direction of the drama teacher. Lots of kids felt that their privacy was being invaded. The artsy/crafty projects were even more burdensome, since they had to be done in groups; often outside of school hours. It's SO easy and SO much fun to schedule 4 kids spread across 10+ miles of suburbs (irony alert) - and they all had significant extracurriculars, naturally. They also had to be driven by parents, of course. The only bright spot was that my youngest had a PE teacher for NEST and he didn't NEST - just expected the kids to be quiet enough to keep him out of trouble.
My experience was that the MS is awful; it focused on all of the worst aspects of adolescence and exaggerated them instead of minimizing them by focusing on academics. Also, the school obviously didn't understand adolescent (males, at least) very well because they didn't understand why the (male) winner of the Wonder Woman Award (best Women' History Month project) quietly dropped it into the trash can at the bottom of the stage steps - because guys should love the idea of being given a Wonder Woman award in front of 1500 peers. His parents were called in for a full-team conference. My kids could't wait to get out of that school.