Brass bands and cheerleaders may not greet them every day, but for many Knox County Schools students a grand entrance helped introduce them to middle school in recent weeks.
Across the district, middle schools have been hosting orientation sessions for rising sixth-graders. The events not only let students ask questions and get familiar with a new building, but they also aim to make them feel welcome during a major life transition. KCS high schools have also been hosting orientation sessions this spring for rising ninth-graders.
At Gresham Middle School in Fountain City, rising sixth-graders were greeted by the school’s cheerleading and dance teams as they stepped off of buses, and during a session in the auditorium they heard a performance by middle school musicians.
Principal Donna Parker said that it’s important for students to visit the building before they officially make the transition to middle school and that the orientation process sets them up for success.
“They come very wide-eyed and I know their bellies are flip-flopping, but they calm down when they see it’s all about them,” Parker said.
At Bearden Middle School, orientation gave students a first look at some of the unfamiliar faces they’ll be seeing in the hallways – Bearden has 12 elementary schools in its feeder system – and gave them a chance to ask questions.
During a meeting in the auditorium, sixth-grade counselor Jimmy Cannington hosted a wide-ranging “Questions and Rumors” session that provided insight into topics of interest, including food, rules and technology.
Asked if the food was gross, Cannington adopted a shocked tone: “Is the food gross? Are you serious? The food is fantastic – pizza every day!”
When another student asked if there were fights in the bathroom, Cannington responded cheerfully: “I’ve never seen one!”
As at Gresham, Bearden’s cheerleaders lined the hallway to welcome students on arrival. Eighth-grader Allison Shuler, who is part of the cheer team, said, “I think when we smile, they start to smile.
“We want to start them out with a positive welcome so hopefully the next three years will be positive, too.”