When she arrived at Hobby Middle School for her first day as a sixth grader, Marisabel Hilario says her mind temporarily went blank.
“I was nervous and excited,” Hilario says. “I worried about getting to class on time, I wondered if the teachers would be mean, and I hoped I would make friends. It took me about a week to get used to everything and I learned it’s not scary, it’s actually pretty positive here.”
Moving to middle school is a huge adjustment and it’s a lot for students to take in. “It’s a lot more people, a lot more classes, a lot more homework,” says Hobby sixth grader Di-Ella Cantu. “But it makes a difference to see what it’s like beforehand.”
The transition from elementary school to middle school can be nerve-wracking for both students and parents, but there are numerous activities planned at each campus to ease worries and increase comfort levels before the first day of middle school.
“We want this to be an exciting time for students,” says Hector Garcia Middle School Principal Eric Tobias. “We really try to calm their fears and give them opportunities to see what middle school is going to be like before they get here in August.”
Last fall, families received letters inviting them to attend athletic and fine arts activities at the schools and last December many middle school bands, orchestras, and choirs took a road trip to perform for fifth graders at their elementary feeder campuses.
Though transition activities vary by name and type at each campus, during the spring of a student’s fifth grade year, their future middle school will offer activities both during the day and in the evening to introduce students and parents to the middle school way of life.
Counselors and administrators will visit the elementary schools to meet students and help with schedule choices. Families are invited to come tour the middle schools and learn about academic and elective courses.
Fifth graders will also take a field trip to the middle schools during the school day. The transition field trip at Hobby is called Camp Hobby and includes tours of the school, a locker-opening relay, a dress code fashion show, introductions to staff, and team-building activities and games with fifth graders from other feeder schools.
According to Hobby Middle School Principal Lawrence Carranco, some of the most anxiety-producing issues for new sixth graders each year are lockers, lunches, and buses. Taking time to address those fears early on makes a huge difference.
“There are so many myths about middle school being scary, and we want to dispel them for students and parents,” Carranco says. “We want everyone to know they are welcome and that they should feel comfortable asking questions and talking to us about their concerns. We are here to help.”
Hilario has some advice for nervous parents. “Don’t watch (middle and high school) movies. It’s not going to be like that.”
If you would like more information about transition activities, visit the middle school campus websites. Links to each campus website can be found at nisd.net.