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Easing transitional anxieties.

Cindy Ramunno

Lockers, class changes and those scary seventh- and eighth-graders can be enough to make an incoming sixth-grader want to puke.

So, at Eagle Valley Middle School, they decided to ease that anxiety.

The night before the first day of school, staff members have new sixth-graders come in to meet their teachers and test their lockers. This year, the entire student body was invited to have a quick run-through before the actual bell rings.

But for sixth graders, this is an incredible opportunity to have some questions answered and feel better about the middle-school experience.

“At EVMS, we have such a great group of kids, and they generally feel very comfortable here,” says Head Secretary Caryn Thompson. “But we always want to maximize that comfort level. You can’t learn if you’re anxious.”

Sixth-grade teacher Susie Sample agrees.

“Our orientation for fifth-graders in May and our back-to-school night is a definite help for incoming sixth-graders. Plus, the first two days of school, we have our walls open so that they are all together. During that time, we discuss school procedures, give tours and talk about schedules. A lot of those first two days are getting our sixth-graders organized and really ready to learn.”

Media Specialist Barb Romersheuser makes a bookmark for every student. On that bookmark is their name, lunch number, locker combination and other pertinent information.

Wonder if she could do something similar to that for parents? Kids and parents alike have raved about these bookmarks – it’s a quick, easy, personal reference guide for kids.

Sixth-grader Emily Boyd says she believes the hard work staff members did paid off.

“I’m very comfortable at EVMS. I love band and we get to do a lot of cool stuff,” Boyd says. “Right now, we are working on time lines of our lives in social studies and it’s a fun way to get to know people.”

Communication and familiarity are two important keys for kids to feel comfortable and safe in a school setting. If kids know what to expect, they know what’s expected of them and are familiar with the layout of the building and the staff members – and learning will take place.

John Crawford says he is enjoying sixth grade at EVMS.

“They told us about every class. We have a homework hotline that you can call into and the recording tells you what your homework is for each class and at each grade level.”

Crawford says teachers usually give homework one subject at a time and no more than 45 minutes of homework goes home per night. When asked who his favorite teacher is, there was no hesitation.

“Mr. Gould. He teaches P.E. and shop,” he says. “In shop, we’re building bridges out of little pieces of wood. We do weight tests on those bridges.”

So, apparently, “Mr. G” is sneaking in some math and engineering in wood shop.

For more information, call 328-6224; for homework or calendar information, call 328-POPS (7677).


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