Talk about growing pains.
Childhood is nothing if it isn’t about constant change — and we’re talking about more than outgrowing a pair of new shoes before they’re fully broken in.
It’s tough being a kid. And it’s downright frightening for some youngsters as they make the transition from elementary school to middle school.
That’s why we are here to applaud the teachers and administrators at Hamlet Middle School for a new friendly program that is designed to ease that often traumatic transition.
Hamlet Middle School offered incoming students a unique orientation experience on Thursday, in the hope of building their confidence as they enter into a new type of school environment when classes begin on Aug. 27.
“We have about 180 sixth graders coming into the school this year,” said Linda Robinson, who helped organize the event at the school. “Not all of them came today, but the ones who did will have an advantage,” she said Thursday.
New students started the morning by meeting Principal Jim Butler and watching a PowerPoint slide show about the school.
After that, the activities kicked into high gear and groups of cheerleaders — who volunteered to help — herded the new kids around to different parts of the school.
Kids had the chance to learn how to open their lockers, and compete in locker races for prizes.
“This is the first year the students will have lockers, and that can be intimidating,” said teacher Joanna Robertson, who spearheaded the new orientation.
This story showed us how teachers themselves continue to learn; Robertson said she heard of a similar student orientation at a South Carolina school and thought it was a great idea.
“Coming to middle school can be such a culture shock for the kids,” said Robertson. “They will have to change classes on their own, the classrooms are spread out, they now have lockers and they will now have six teachers instead of just two. It’s a lot to take in.”
Kids were sent on scavenger hunts around the school to find things like: the principal’s autograph; number of windows in the media center; number of computers in the computer labs; how many sixth grade teachers are at the school; the location of the chorus and band rooms; the number of water fountains at the school; and other school trivia.
“Door prizes were donated by different community members,” said Robinson. “We just want the kids to have the opportunity to get to know the school, and feel comfortable in the new environment.”
Robertson said she’s had great responses from parents and kids about the new orientation.
Former middle school principal Pete Lorain, who knows the minefield of challenges that await youngsters entering middle school for the first time, wrote about the transition for the National Education Association.
“A well-planned transition program helps parents and students have a greater peace of mind by taking some of the stress out of the summer before middle school and providing the groundwork for a successful beginning of the middle school adventure,” Lorain wrote.
It’s hard enough being a growing child — battling hormones, pimples and peer pressure.
They don’t need the added anxiety of unfriendly hallways, locker roulette, and getting lost on the way to math class.
Hamlet Middle School’s welcoming program is a gem.