Going from elementary to middle school can be a traumatic and nerve racking experience for some students. Learning a new system, new classrooms, new teachers, and to add to that stress…making new friends.
“It's very nerve racking for a lot of our students,” said North Middle School principle Danny Janklow.
“They encounter a lot of different anxieties. Issues as simple as lockers, all the way down to where their class locations are, the amount of time it takes to go from period to period and still stop off at their locker to change out their books, that type of thing,” Janklow said.
But a new program called Soaring Eagle at North Middle School in Rapid City is helping students ease their way into a new, and sometimes scary, envirnoment.
“We are able to get about a third of our 6th graders to come through,” Janklow said. “We were able to offer activities, introduce them to some of the teachers, how we run the food program, and basically transition them through some of the activities, classrooms, and hallway procedures.”
School counselor Kara Callahan said the idea came about when staff got together to discuss ways to help incoming students.
“We tried do to a little bit of a mock schedule,” Callahan said, “so they learn how to get from one classroom to the next and how to manage their time between classes, so that they're ready for school when we start.”
“We all sat down looking at different way that we can create intervention and provide assistance to students in different areas, Janklow said.
“One of the things that we noticed is the transition for kids and the nervousness that students by being in a single classroom, with a single teacher as an elementary student, and then setting forth into a middle school career, you have multiple teachers and multiple interaction throughout they day. So it's just kind of a way to try to lesson some of the anxiety of some of our incoming students.”
This is the first year the school is running the program. So far, it’s getting positive feedback from some students who participated in the weeklong program.
“It was fun because it's just a new experience,” said Clayton Schmitz, one of about 60 students to enroll in the program.
“I thought it would be better because this is middle school and it's different than elementary school. You get to move around between all the different classes. It's not as nerve racking when you do the Soaring Eagles program because you know your way around the school,” Schmitz said.
Janklow said he hopes the success of the program will spread to other schools.
“I'd love to think that it has that potential. We did kind of take a launch this year and worked through some of the kinks. We'd love to see it expand and grow.”
Schmitz thinks new students at North Middle School should consider getting into the program.
“If they're new to this middle school and have a chance to do this, I recommend the Soaring Eagles program to them.”