Class equips sixth-graders with combo lock know-how and study skills

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - From left, sixth-graders Jackie Loverin, Arielle Bloom and Julia Woolf discuss their experiences pertaining to the subject as shown by the toss of the dice.What are sixth-graders most afraid of when they start middle school?

The anxiety list includes being unable to open their lockers, late for class and overwhelmed in difficult classes, according to “Kids’ Biggest Middle School Fears,” an article by Scholastic, a publisher and distributor of children’s books.

Lakeridge and Lake Oswego junior high school educators and administrators aim to ease students’ worries and help them prepare with the annual fifth-graders’ tour of their future academic homes. There’s also the traditional sixth-graders-only first day of school, which is Sept. 3 this year.

But, some incoming junior high students scored extra aid to allay their fears and ready themselves for the fall when they took the Sixth Grade Success Class this summer.Marcy Watts

Two installments of the two-day workshop were offered at both junior high schools through the Community School, a Lake Oswego School District organization and school offering youth sports, enrichment and adult programs.

“The kids who are (in the success class) are going to get a jump start,” Lakeridge Junior High Counselor Marcy Watts said a few minutes before one of the success classes began last week.

Watts and Kristin Moore, an eighth-grade math teacher at Lake Oswego Junior High, school their charges on organizational tools to support good studying habits as well as managing a schedule, familiarizing themselves with the building — and navigating it. Sixth Grade Success Class attendees also learn how to access online grades, teachers’ websites and online homework. Plus, the about 150 success class participants practice opening a locker, running drills to test their REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Jenna Tedeshci, ninth grade, shares some of her experiences entering junior high.

“We make it fun, so the kids are used to opening (a combination lock) quickly,” Moore said. “When everybody else is getting used to opening their lockers, they can go around and help their friends, and it makes them feel good to help others.”

Incoming Lakeridge sixth-grader Hazel Chu said she isn’t worried about opening her locker and eagerly awaits day one: “I’m excited for my new school.”

A middle school intro class has been around for years, and three years ago, Moore and Watt joined forces to standardize the curriculum so students could take the class from either school, although the layout of each school building is different.

“Any time there’s change, people tend to be anxious,” Moore said. The class “just helps everybody feel calm and get ready for the start of the school year.”

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