Leaders participated in group activities as preparation for the program.
By TERRI REUTER
Publications/public information coordinator,
Southern York County School District
Glen Rock, Pa – The middle school transition program that aids seventh-graders in making the transfer from elementary to middle school has been recognized by state organizations.
Where Everybody Belongs, which is designed to assist students in successfully managing the hurdles of middle school, will be showcased at this year’s Annual Pennsylvania Education Excellence Fair at the Pennsylvania School Boards Association/Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators Leadership Conference in Hershey, on Oct. 20.
Within the program, which is in its third year at Southern Middle School, select eighth-graders provide leadership and act as mentors for the incoming seventh grade students. This year, Southern Middle has a record number of student leaders participating, with 102 students, doubled from last year. Based on the Boomerang Project, WEB is similar to ninth grade Link Crew program, now in its fifth year at Susquehannock High School.
As part of WEB, the eighth grade leaders are grouped with about 10 seventh-graders. After applying and being selected at the end of seventh grade, they participated in summer training activities, which prepared them for their leadership roles.
As part of their training, WEB leaders worked together to form a giraffe.
“It’s super exciting,” middle school teacher and WEB trainer Trisha Coggins said. “My goal for next year is to have the entire eighth grade as WEB leaders so we have one on one (between WEB leaders and seventh graders).”
The WEB training consisted of group team work, where the leaders learned how to speak in front of groups and how to take responsibility. They were also assigned specific seventh graders to mentor throughout the year.
“You have the power to change this building and make it the best building,” middle school teacher and WEB trainer Marlene Quesenberry told the students during training.
This may be accomplished by making the school a friendly place where students want to come, she explained. As a result, this will decrease the discipline issues, and students will be more caring and supportive of one another, which will make them more successful.
To help welcome the incoming seventh-graders, WEB leaders phoned them prior to the start of school. They also created posters and provided school tours the first day. Seventh-graders also participated in several challenges, alone and in groups, so they could recognize each other’s differences.
“The whole idea is for them to get into groups so they get to know each other,” Quesenberry said.
As the year progresses, the leaders teach their group about cooperation, how to work as a team, and ultimately, how to be successful in middle school. WEB leaders recently participated in their first PRIDE lesson, Reppert said. PRIDE (which stands for Prepared, Respect, Integrity, Do Your Best, and Engaged) is the school wide effective behavior system. The leaders lead their seventh grade peers in these lessons.
“The WEB leaders were enthusiastic and looking forward to this unique leadership opportunity,” Southern Middle School Principal Len Reppert said.
So far, the students are off to an excellent start. “The program continues to grow with WEB leaders due to the positive experience the eighth-graders received when they were in seventh grade,” he said. “We believe that the students want to give back to their younger peers as a way to improve the overall transitioning to SMS.”
WEB leaders created posters to welcome the seventh graders to middle school.