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Sixth-graders come to Rosemont Ridge for annual orientation event

The screams were deafening when a crowd of sixth-grade students showed up for an orientation session at Rosemont Ridge Middle School the week before school officially began.

The students weren’t protesting though. They were enjoying themselves, laughing and cheering one another on during the second annual Rosemont Survivor event Aug. 28.by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Kelsey Bjorklund takes part in a quiz while wrapped in toilet paper.

Organized by the school’s PTO under the leadership of parents Jackie Wetzsteon and Kathy Brandeberry, the event introduces the new sixth-graders to the school year.

“Last year, we thought we’d be lucky if we had 60 kids and we had 200. We were short maybe 35 kids (from the class),” PTO President Holly Miller said. This year, 196 out of the class of 242 attended the event.

Unlike other local schools’ orientation events, Rosemont Survivor is free for students attending, boys and girls stay together and it happens before the school year starts.

“We realized it made more sense to bring them in when they’re nervous,” Miller said. “We’re trying to take away some of the mystery, to make them feel more at ease before they come in for their first day.”

The event plays off of the popular reality TV show “Survivor.” When the sixth-graders arrived at the school, they received a name tag and were randomly assigned to a team, or “tribe,” in Survivor terms. Students were not necessarily placed on teams with their friends.

“Because we have (six) grade schools feeding into one middle school, we’re trying to break down the social groups,” Miller said. “You want to see a kid who comes in anxious and leaves saying, ‘Well, that’s no big deal.’”

During the event, each tribe — about 20 of them — completed various challenges, such as opening a locker, answering Rosemont trivia questions and visiting various special classrooms such as the music room. The challenges are designed to help the new students learn their way around the school.

“I was sort of nervous, nervous to start school,” admitted Sydney Robertson, a sixth-grader coming to Rosemont from Bolton Primary School. “It’s a lot bigger.”

Sydney appreciated the guidance provided by Rosemont seventh- and eighth-graders.

“They showed us different rooms of the school,” she said. “If we had questions, they would answer them.”

Sydney’s mother, Amy Robertson, also attended the event, spending her time in the music room helping students play “name that tune.” Robertson said the event was a good icebreaker for the parents, too.

“As volunteers, to introduce ourselves, that was nice,” she said.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Nora Wilson, right, explains the snack shack to Graham Yotsuya and Ellie Garcia.Miller had nothing but praise for the 60 parent volunteers who made the event possible. “It’s volunteer intensive at a tough time of summer but ... we’ve had to turn away volunteers,” she said. “I feel very blessed that we have such a supportive community.”

Parents new to the school appreciated the event, too.

“It was nice to meet other moms,” Sarah Oscar said. Her daughter, Tiffani, is a sixth-grader from Cedaroak Park. “I found out some great information. ... It was very beneficial.”