The transition to middle school can be a big step for students and families alike. To help students start the year on the right foot, Highline middle schools hosted a new three-day transition program for all incoming seventh-grade students.
Middle School Bridge aims to help new middle school students get to know their new school community and begin their middle school experience successfully.
“We want them to feel confident when they walk in the door,” said Principal Diana Garcia
This photo essay provides a glimpse into the Middle School Bridge program at Pacific Middle School.
Each day starts with breakfast and a special greeting in the school cafeteria.
“We’re learning how to make new friends, get to know people, get to know the school, and get to know the teachers,” said seventh-grade student Jadi Mills (standing). “It’s really fun. I was excited [to attend Middle School Bridge] because I wanted to get to know the school better, meet the people, and get a head start.”
After breakfast, students break into groups and rotate between classes. Many of the lessons are focused on team-building and led by eighth-grade students.
Eighth-grade mentor Xzavior Elmore (center) leads a lesson centered around how to create strategies as a team. Other lessons include bullying, study habits, peer pressure, and juggling multiple classes.
The eighth-grade students will continue to mentor seventh-grade students throughout the year.
“Our goal is to build a solid foundation for our seventh-graders and help them transition well.” said teacher Cindy Hamar. “Building a relationship with them now is really wonderful for when I have them in class.”
During one lesson, students are given a random card and do a role-play treating each other poorly or positively, based on the numbers on their cards.
“This activity has taught me about how we define people and how that can affect the way we treat them,” said seventh-grade student Dohnavin Jones (center). “The first day I was really nervous but when I got here, it felt really natural.”
“I was nervous that people wouldn’t like me or that I would get lost really easily. Now I’m not as nervous because I’ve made some new friends so it’s easier to talk to people,” said seventh-grade student KJ Spieldenner
“I’m excited to go to lots of different classes because I’ve never done that before. And I’m excited to make more friends," said KJ.
“It's been nice getting to know the [seventh graders].” said eighth-grade student mentor Cayden Brittain (top left). “I know how they feel. My advice is that they shouldn't ditch class and really focus on their school work instead of being cool.”
Seventh-grade students also had an opportunity to ask candid questions of their older peers during the program.
“I think that having three days in the building gives them a sense that we’ve got systems in place to support them. We have eighth graders and other people here to help lift them up when maybe they are struggling,” said teacher Cindy Hamar.
“We're here for you even outside of school. We get you, and we've been where you are,” eighth-grade student Hailey Blair
(top center) told her seventh-grade classmates during a lesson.
“You get to interact with new kids so when you start you know your classmates. I'm not really nervous. This program helped,” said student Evionna Clairmont (left).
“My goal this year is for the eight-graders and seventh-graders to get along. I want all of us to hang out,” said Lluvia Ruiz, and eighth-grade student mentor. "My biggest message to the seventh-graders is that doesn't matter what people think of you. It matters more about how you feel about yourself.”
“I feel more comfortable. I was worried about getting lost but I looked around the school and now I'm not worried anymore,” said seventh-grade student Natalie Garrido (right), who attend Des Moines Elementary last year. Here, she is in a group discussion about bullying. “I’ve learned if you treat people badly they might treat you badly back and you don't want that.”
Seventh-grade student Ethan Cooke
(right) snaps his fingers when he agrees with something a classmate said during a group discussion. "This is helping me get prepared mentally. They are just doing a really good job,"said Ethan, who attended Marvista Elementary School last year.
Eighth-grade student Julia McGarr
gives her seventh-grade peers a tour of the school so they know where to go starting on the first day of class.