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Blog: Friday, September 13th, 2019

Transitions Matter

Beginning a new school at any level is a significant event that can draw out an array of emotions in students - from excitement and pride to fear and worry. To ensure our incoming grade 6 kids feel safe, informed and connected to this new chapter, we start the process of introducing students to middle school life in their grades 4 and 5 years. Led by the Grade 6 and Exploration teachers, students visit ATMS for exciting curriculum transition days in the fall and spring, a tri-traditional soccer tournament in November and a competitive 3 vs 3 traditional basketball event at the end of the year. With several opportunities to explore middle school life, it is our hope that these events help build excitement and a culture of belonging.

Those events, however, are simply sneak peaks into middle school life. The most impactful way that our newest ATMS students are welcomed to middle school is through a well-planned structured process that starts in the spring, with careful planning from our highly trained Where Everyone Belongs (WEB) facilitators, Mrs. Strafford and Mrs. Sickels. With intensive spring training under their belt, the grade 8 WEB leaders are at the helm for their first and most important event – the August orientation when the new sixes are invited for a stimulating day of making real connections and becoming a part of a caring, inclusive culture where everyone belongs. And that’s just the beginning. These leaders are year-long mentors, event planners, advisors and supporters for their team of new students.

Observing this process now for the second year, I see the amazing positive impact this practice has on individual students and on the culture of the school as a whole.  Built on the belief that students help students, and that student achievement will increase when kids feel safe, informed and connected to their school, the WEB program develops student leaders who are the trusted source of safety, the ones to go to for the real need-to-know information and the face-face connection that reminds kids that their new school is a place where everyone belongs.

JENNIFER BENNITO
Vice-Principal, Abbotsford Traditional Middle School