At Palmer Trinity School, we recognize the difficulties students tend to go through as they transition to middle school. One of the ways we work with our youngest student to ease the anxiety at the beginning of the school year, is to have the students go through our “Sixth Grade Bootcamp” - a three day event where sixth grade students work on getting acclimated to their new school. Instead of attending their regularly scheduled classes, the students tour around campus, get to know the faculty, staff and administration and get to know one another. This past week the students had the chance to work in advisory on skits, tour their way around the school website and begin to foster friendships. Additionally, as we started last year, the 6th graders participated in a collaborative art installation project. This year, each student took part in splattering paint on a canvas in the style of Jackson Pollock. The finished product will eventually make its way to a wall in the middle school office.
Selfishly, one of the highlights for me is the conversation I have with sixth grade students. It serves as a time for them to get to know me as I get to know them. To help me put faces to names, I start by having them go around the room introducing themselves - telling me their name and the school in which they came from and then I ask questions. Some of which are: What are you most afraid of? What have you heard about Palmer Trinity that you want clarification about? What are you most excited about? I want them walking away from our conversation feeling comfortable with me, an understanding that I am there to help them along this journey, and I have their best interest in mind.
Also, as customary at PTS, the last day ends with a scavenger hunt and an ice cream social for the sixth grade students and advisors. While I can't claim any credit for the creation of the scavenger hunt, one of the tasks they had to complete was to send me an email with our Palmer Trinity Middle School tagline, “#ptslifeinthemiddle” as the title. They were instructed to include, in the body of the email, what they like most about their short time at Palmer Trinity School. I read each and every one and here is what stuck out the most:
“I really enjoy being in the middle school because I like the way that we switch classes and teachers. The sixth grade has nice, friendly people. Thank you for accepting me.”
“I love being in the middle school at Palmer Trinity because you have the opportunity to learn more than one language in a year.”
“I love the campus at PTS. It is the most beautiful campus I have ever seen.”
“It is a pleasure to be here in Palmer. I love the food here in Palmer Trinity.”
“Middle School at Palmer Trinity is great! The teachers are amazing and so fun.”
“I love the campus, food and peacocks!”
“I love this amazing school because this is my dream school. I am so excited to spend 7 years of my life.”
“What I like about middle school is how we get more independence.”
“I love the freedom of Palmer Trinity. Walking around the campus with the beautiful nature and looming buildings. The school is bustling with life and students heading towards their destinations. I feel like I am strolling through the city of Manhattan. Thank you for giving me this gift.”
“I really love the nice community we have here in Palmer.”
While I know we are just a few days into the school year and not every day is bound to be great, we are certainly off to a great start.