7/22/11 Sixth-grade SURVIVAL

  Rising eighth-grader Ryan Haneline, left, engages incoming sixth-graders, from left, Lennon Sosa, Mason Leath, Hunter Fankhauser and Marisela Flores with straws to demonstrate teamwork Thursday during Graham Middle School’s Sixth Grade Survival Camp. The one-day event is hosted by eighth-graders and is intended to ease the transition into middle school for sixth-graders.

Sam Roberts / Times-News

Rising eighth-grader Ryan Haneline, left, engages incoming sixth-graders, from left, Lennon Sosa, Mason Leath, Hunter Fankhauser and Marisela Flores with straws to demonstrate teamwork Thursday during Graham Middle School’s Sixth Grade Survival Camp. The one-day event is hosted by eighth-graders and is intended to ease the transition into middle school for sixth-graders.

Sixth-grade SURVIVAL
Middle school host event to help new students prepare
By Evan B. Kozierachi The Times-News 7/22/11     
Reprinted with permission.

 GRAHAM — Welcome to middle school, kid.

 Rising sixth-graders were welcomed with fanfare at Graham Middle School on Thursday greeted by faculty members and some rising eighth-graders to a Survival Camp — otherwise known as orientation.

 The Survival Camp is meant to help students transition from elementary school to middle school by familiarizing them with staff and older, experienced students.

 “I think this lets them be excited about middle school instead of being scared,” said Teresa Faucette, the principal of Graham Middle School. “Before we did this program, sixth-graders used to come in real timid and were scared to say anything, and we wanted to make them feel comfortable enough to talk.”

 Maybe it was the food students shared with their parents or the enthusiasm of Team Wonder’s leaders, Faith Howell and Heather Newberry, but by midday students were asking more questions than their parents about the imminent school year, which starts Monday for year round students.

 There are four teams at Graham Middle School (like houses at Hogwarts from “Harry Potter”) and Team Wonder’s theme will follow Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” with a biweekly “Mad Hatter tea party” for students with no incomplete work, Newberry said. Howell said that she was a Zumba instructor and would be teaching classes after school on Thursdays.

 Three 25-minute breakout sessions for students followed the team meetings. Shannon Edwards, an instructor and owner of Ultimate Martial Arts & Fitness, led the first session: “How to Handle Bullying at GMS.”

 Wearing a black belt karate uniform, Edwards asked students for a positive way to deal with bullies. Earnest Perry, a rising and enthusiastic sixth-grader, answered: “Be their friend!” Edwards later dubbed Perry, “the creative one,” for his answer. Her business will provide a free UMAF event, “Bullies to Buddies,” on Sept. 24.

 The next session was “Surviving PE in Middle School,” in which Perry’s cellphone only added to his presence in the chorus room. In fact, the only student to challenge Perry’s presence was Christian Leonard, his best friend since childhood. Both are looking forward to being managers of the football team and playing trombone in band.

 Daniel Privette, chorus teacher and supporter of Public Behavior Intervention Support, led the final session, “Navigating GMS.” It rewards well-behaved students with tickets, which they can spend at the school store. As Privette passed around the signup sheet for his chorus class, he asked who was interested in playing sports, to which possibly all of the sixth-graders raised their hands. Perry signed the sheet and raised his hand.

 “They seem to be very sweet. They have a lot of questions. And they’re real excited,” Faucette said.