The two vice principals of Columneetza, our local grade 7 to 9 campus, gave nervous parents a tour and a talk last week about what to expect when their children make the scary transition from elementary school to middle school in September.
Though school teachers were absent due to job action, resident vice principals/comedians Grant Gustafson and Mike Grace were on hand for the meeting.
The two worked to quell some of the worries of parents on hand for the meeting, but were also candid about some of the challenges ahead.
Apparently, lockers and the cafeteria are a big draw for first-time middle school students. Let’s face it, to those freedom-seeking 12-year-olds, a locker is the first step toward getting their own apartment.
Unfortunately for current Grade 7 students, they had to share old lockers but there is hope those will be replaced over the summer months.
Another draw is the cafeteria, where students and staff can get a good deal on lunch. We suggest students should look at getting a summer job next month to pay for all those lunches, so cash-strapped parents don’t have to. The school is also floating the idea of an Outdoor Education Academy which would see interested students have class based out of the Scout Island Nature Centre once a week for more interactive, environmentally-focused learning.
The program is a fascinating idea and certainly would be considered a move towards the 21st Century Learning model endorsed by education leaders in recent years. That the district is even looking at programs like this tells us they aren’t afraid to try thinking out-of-the-box, which is exactly what our students and our world needs.
As well as the learning, perhaps one of the biggest bonuses of the academy would be physically removing the students one day a week from the Columneetza basement where all 230-some grade 7 students are housed.
All we can say is there must be some very dedicated teachers who volunteer to work in that setting.
A real challenge facing students in middle school continues to be bullying; in particular children who are left to freely participate in social sites like Facebook without tight parental controls.
The Fox Mountain bus route also continues to be a problem facing students, who arrive almost an hour before class and leave for home late too.
But perhaps the biggest challenge facing 12 year olds entering middle school is their hormone-fuelled selves.
Grace and Gustafson said the middle school years are a major transition time for students, and that in just six years time they will be like our current Grade 12s –– graduating high school and moving into adulthood.
Now if the school district could just figure out a way to slow down time.
– Williams Lake Tribune