Who are my teachers? What will math class be like in middle school? Where is the locker room? How do I go through the lunch line?
Sixth graders making the exciting transition from elementary to middle school often have a lot of questions about their new school and what’s expected of them. The Starting Strong program at Odle and Highland Middle Schools helps answer some of those questions and gets students excited about their new school.
For a week in mid-August, several dozen incoming Odle students participating in the Starting Strong program spend their mornings learning about life in middle school. Students learn the rules and expectations in their new building. They peer through microscopes for the first time in a science class preview. They even compete in a reality-show style “Amazing Race,” trying to locate the locker rooms, lunchroom and restroom. They have fun, form relationships and learn. “They learn how to navigate being a middle schooler,” says Odle Principal Eric McDowell. “We talk a lot about what do successful sixth graders look like, what do they sound like and what do successful sixth graders do.”
Most importantly, students attending Starting Strong get to know their new teachers. “They build relationships with their teachers,” says McDowell. “They get to know the school and they realize that somebody at Odle really cares about them.”
The week-long jumpstart gives incoming middle school students a boost of confidence when school reopens. They become leaders among their classmates. “They’re the ones saying ‘Oh, I know where this is’ or ‘I know how to do the lunch line.’ Instead of being scared, they’re ready to go, and they’re ready to lead their class.”
Starting Strong is going strong at Odle and Highland, as well as Sammamish and Interlake High Schools and is supported in part by the Bellevue Schools Foundation.