Schools pull out the stops to prepare incoming sixth graders, freshmen

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(ABC 6 News) – With just a few weeks to go until the first day of school, schools are preparing for the newest students – sixth graders and freshmen.

Remember your first day of Middle School? The class of 2023 at Stewartville Middle School will start the year a bit differently. Their first day will be filled with getting to know the school, their schedules, and the staff. In addition, there will be a number of team-building activities to make sure everyone is feeling at ease as they navigate middle school.

This isn’t the “first time” they’ve walked through the middle school halls. Students had a tour of the building a few months ago during the spring of their fifth-grade year.

“It gives them a sense of being able to own their space, becoming familiar with their space,” said Sharon Prunty, the Principal at Stewartville Middle School.

Incoming freshmen next door at Stewartville High School will have a similar day.

“Having some familiarity with how things work, building some relationships prior to coming into the building, having some familiar faces again,” said Katie Murlock, the Principal at Stewartville High School as she shared what that first day will look like.

“Creating that sense of belonging in the building before everybody is here. It’s kind of scary, right? When you’re a ninth-grader. So kind of eliminating some of those things that make kids nervous.”

Over at Rushford-Peterson, all the schools are in the same building – PreK through 12th grade.

“When you go into fifth or sixth grade, we joke with them that they got to go into higher education now because they have to go upstairs a little bit there,” joked Jake Timm, the Middle and High School Principal for Rushford-Peterson Schools.

For those transitioning “between schools,” there is an orientation day in the spring to walk through their schedules and practice those tricky locker combinations. The actual first day of school itself is a bit more laid back.

“I meet with every student six through 12 in a classroom setting. Just to go over the handbook and give them that prep talk for the year,” added Timm.

Rushford-Peterson students are back to school the day after Labor Day.

For sixth and ninth graders in Stewartville, they will have their specialized orientation day on Wednesday, September 6th. The other grades will return to class the following day.