Easing the fear, raising their confidence

Elementary students get acquainted with the middle school


Gara Rosenberg empathizes with what her fourth grade Number Five School students are now going through. Rosenberg also went from a Lawrence district elementary school to the middle school.

A 1990 graduate of Lawrence High School, Rosenberg has taught in the district for 16 years. “They have many questions,” she said, as a group of Number Five students were taking part in the third of four middle school orientation sessions.

Approximately 180 fourth-graders from both the Number Five and Two schools took a tour of the middle school, asked questions and saw the play “The Music Man” on May 17 as part of their continuing introduction to their new school.

During the school year there is also in-classroom preparation for the students’ leap to the next level. “We read different short stories about what to expect to alleviate anxieties,” Rosenberg added, saying that it helps for them to visual where they will be next school year.

Diminishing student trepidation and providing a sense of security are the primary goals of the orientations, said middle school guidance counselor Stephanie Henderson. “It is to take the fear of the unknown away and give them confidence,” she said.

This is the fifth incoming class of fourth-graders since the middle school included fifth-graders. The school’s first fifth grade class is graduating this year and moving on to the high school, said middle school Assistant Principal Rina Beach.

After the Number Five School students watched the play they sat in the middle school auditorium and asked questions of Beach. The inquiries ranged from clubs, sports and lockers to a more serious subject: bullying. “The fifth grade teachers make sure you get what you need,” Beach said. “Bullying is not an acceptable behavior and if something happens what do you do? You tell someone.”

Following the question and answer session, the students set out on their tour of the middle school. Led by middle school guidance counselor Michael Divino, the students were shown the main office area, the hallways, classrooms and main stairwell in the fifth-grade portion of the school. Their eyes widened and jaws dropped to the floor when they saw the size of both the old and new gymnasiums.

Number Five students Ani Chittabathini, John Escalante and Jibraiel Rehman were all impressed with the size of the middle school that was originally the district high school. “It’s a big school, I’m going to make a lot of friends, there is a lot of people,” Escalante said. “I think it’s a nice school,” said Chittabathini, adding that he thought that having a no bullying policy is a good thing. “It’s a really big school with a lot of grades,” Rehman said. “I’ll be thinking about [coming here] all summer.”

Previously, Henderson and Willis Perry, the middle school’s principal, hosted a meeting with parents. The fourth and final orientation session is scheduled to take place in August, where the students, accompanied by their parents and with their class schedules in hand, will visit the school once more before the new school year begins in September.

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