The middle school’s recent two-day welcome-back event felt more like a celebratory party than school function. The new crop of 475 seventh-graders beamed as they triangulated their new digs, the middle school. Definitely happy and excited, a bit nervous, but mostly they were ready to get on with it.
Though the seventh-graders face big changes ahead with switching classes, working the combination lockers and acclimatizing to greater academic responsibility, they rolled with it — laughing, hugging, catching up and shaking off their parents by assigning them as line-keepers in different sections of the orientation.
“This is a very exciting time because they’ve been waiting all summer to find out who their teachers are,” said Principal Ken See. “Once they know their teachers, they want to know if they’re in class with all of their friends.”
The Line Starts Here
With an expected fall enrollment of 906 students, the middle school’s orientation entertained hundreds of students, with parents and younger siblings in tow. The lobby was swallowed by a long, snaking queue for locker signups.
In the auditorium, two lines formed for school pictures by Geskus Photography for student identification card and yearbook. In the gymnasium, where class schedules and Chromebooks were dispensed to each student, students and families good-naturedly waited their turn, fanning away the hot air.
“Today, is very engaging and exciting for them,” See said. “We don’t have to beg them to come in today. It’s a big deal. On the first day of school, they are so ready. We’ve handled the logistics and we’re ready for the academic component, on Day One.”
The bank of 20 combination lockers outside the gymnasium presented the only hiccup in the day. With the combination posted on the temporary practice lockers, both seventh- and eighth-graders gamely tackled the combo locks.
“We want to take away that anxiety, because lockers are always a big challenge for kids who haven’t worked a combination lock before,” See said. “So when they come today, they get the chance to practice lots of times and feel confident about it — especially for the seventh-graders.”
Tina Dixon called out instruction to her son, seventh-grader Troy Reinhart: “Okay, now find 17 – make sure it’s on 17. Turn the dial left, keep going until you reach 23. Okay, try it one more time, alright.”
Troy called out, with satisfaction, “Got it. Yeah, yes!”
You’ve Got Four Minutes!
Guidance secretary Renee Kooyer knows from experience that four minutes is plenty of time to get to the next class. “Otherwise they dawdle,” Kooyer said.
Eighth-grader Selena Alofs, with her mom, Karianne Touroo, decided to map out her classes.
“I really want to walk my schedule,” Selena said. “That can be hard sometimes — let’s say that you’re all the way in science and have to walk to choir, that’s around the school. But you get used to it quick.”
Many students are moving on to fall athletics and extracurricular activities. As eighth-grader Lexie Schipper said: “Volleyball tryout is the second day of school. So that’s what I’m about, now.”