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  • Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette Lakeside Middle school sixth-graders practice the combination lock on their lockers during Transition Day. Students entering sixth and ninth grades in Fort Wayne Community Schools got a jump on the new school year visiting their schools. The orientation day gave students at these two transitional grade levels the chance to learn the rules of the new school, find their lockers, walk through their schedule and practice other school routines, such as navigating the lunch line.

  • Photos by Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette Sixth-grader Mikayla Jackson practices the combination on her locker during Transition Day on Tuesday at Lakeside Middle School. New middle-schoolers got a chance to get familiar with a new building and routines.

  • Sixth-graders Chase Pepple, left, and Jamen Ramsey participate in a getting-to-know-your-classmate activity at Lakeside. FWCS freshmen also had orientation at their new high schools Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017 1:00 am

Warming up to middle school

On Transition Day, FWCS 6th-graders size up changes

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Although the academic year won't begin until next week, groups of sixth-graders roamed Lakeside Middle School's halls Tuesday during a scavenger hunt designed to help them learn the building.

The activity was part of Transition Day, which gave incoming sixth-graders in Fort Wayne Community Schools an opportunity to meet teachers, practice their locker combination and ask questions without the distraction of seventh- and eighth-graders. Freshmen also participated in orientation at the high schools.

School starts Aug. 15 for FWCS.

Lakeside Principal Alan Jones, whose office was included in the scavenger hunt, said students can feel anxious when they move from the “top of the food chain” at the elementary level to becoming a “small sixth-grader.”

The change comes with a new building, new rules and new people, he said.

“That can be daunting for an 11-year-old,” he said.

Shamara McGinnis, 12, said her nerves about entering middle school have dissipated, but she couldn't name a specific reason why. Transition Day gave her a chance to try opening her locker, which took a few attempts, she said.

Molly Brineman, who teaches sixth-grade language arts and social studies, guided students to the cultural arts hallway and explained which classes might bring them there.

Transition Day was also for parents, whom Jones encouraged to stay involved in their child's education, such as through the PTA or school activities.

Questions about student drop-off and pickup are common from parents who want to ensure they are in the right place at the right time, Jones said.

Students are generally concerned about academics, sports – and recess, which they are disappointed to learn Lakeside doesn't have, he said.

But Jones knows what can fire them up, he said: learning the school offers a hot lunch. “It's the little things,” he said.