Leaving the cozy confines of elementary school, especially after being in fifth grade and the oldest in the school, can be a scary and difficult rite of passage for any child. However, Polo Park Middle School took great strides in lowering the students’ fear factor by hosting its fourth annual Polo Park Sixth Grade Summer Prep Program.
The main goal of the program is to make the incoming sixth graders a little more comfortable prior to starting their middle school years. This year’s program was held Aug. 1-3 and saw nearly 200 soon-to-be Stallions attend. The program included a variety of topics designed to prepare the students for what they would encounter during their sixth-grade year.
The activities during the three days included a presentation on the dangers of bullying, a presentation and activity on organization, a student-led tour of the school, an introduction to physical education, a scavenger hunt to learn the school grounds and a locker relay so the new students could practice opening locks — a difficult skill for anyone new to middle school. The entire program concluded with a pizza party for the students and a chance for them to ask the faculty members any questions they may have about starting middle school.
“Easing the fears of the incoming sixth graders is our number-one goal,” said Kaitlyn Brugnoni, co-coordinator of the Summer Prep Program. “Making them a little more at ease and seeing them that first week of school comfortable in the middle school setting makes the program all the more worthwhile.”
The program is run by a faculty committee made up of teachers from all disciplines, as well as current eighth-grade students who serve as counselors for the incoming sixth graders.
The counselors are a key component of the program. They are able to dispense excellent advice on being in middle school, as well as serve as a friendly face for the students when they come on the first day of school. Many of the counselors this year went through the program when they were entering middle school and now came full circle by being mentors for the new students.
ABOVE: New students work together to get ready for middle school.