More than half of Newark Middle School’s 167 sixth graders recently had a chance to get comfortable with their new school environment through Sixth Grade Camp, a program designed by teachers to help students feel at ease in their new building before the school year. Sixth Grade Camp preceded the school’s annual Locker Night.
Camp activities started with a welcoming assembly in the auditorium, where students played a game before separating into groups to complete four activities: a scavenger hunt, planting beans in the Science Lab, making magnetic schedule boards for their lockers and eating ice cream sundaes.
Each student found a Newark Reds sports sling bag in their lockers. Teachers wore T-shirts featuring Bitmoji images of themselves, the same pictures that appear outside their classrooms.
“The NMS staff wanted to begin to build a community with our new students, and make them feel comfortable and excited about the transition to their new school,” sixth grade teacher Karen Taber explained. “In the past, we just had the Locker Night evening in which students could visit our school with their families, and have a traditional orientation and meet-and-greet with the teachers. Our goal this year was to do something more for incoming sixth graders to really help them feel a part of our Newark Middle School community from the very beginning. We decided that there was no better way to get to know our kids than to participate in some fun ‘camp’ projects with us, and the idea of Sixth Grade Camp was born.
“Incoming sixth graders arrived at 3 p.m. and participated in a variety of activities in our sixth grade Neighborhood. A scavenger hunt guided by teachers helped students to explore their new school and learn about the adults who will be an important part of their lives for the next few years. A science project allowed students a first glimpse of the beautifully equipped labs we have at Newark Middle School. When students opened their new lockers for the first time, there was a nice surprise inside for each of them. Finally, our new sixth graders were treated to an ice cream sundae event that led to many more memories being made.
“Our camp was great fun for all. When the camp portion of the day was completed, students were escorted to the auditorium to meet their families.”
Parents listened to an overview of middle school life by Principal Teresa Prinzi, and assistant principals John Ginter and Laurie Palmisano.
“Students were very excited to show family members their new schedules and many felt comfortable already guiding their parents through the school on a tour,” Taber said. “Families were also treated to a hot dog barbecue in the cafeteria. It was a wonderful opportunity for our Newark Middle School community to gather together and prepare for a great year of learning.”
Sixth grade teacher Amanda Carpenter said she and the other teachers were thrilled with the Sixth Grade Camp turnout.
“It was such a great way to get acquainted with so many of our incoming sixth graders,’’ she said. “Camp gave them more time before school opened to feel the Newark Middle School building is their new school. Smiles on their faces told the story, and by night’s end the kids seemed to be building relationships with their teachers and each other. Many said they loved it and it really helped ease any jitters they may have had about coming to middle school.”
“The addition of Sixth Grade Camp this year was such a great way to build relationships with students, and create a positive experience for students and families,” Prinzi said. “We had so many excited students spending the afternoon with us. I think the teachers were just as excited about the success of this event as the students and families were. We are looking forward to a great year of teaching and learning”
Seventh and eighth graders also attended Locker Night, giving them a chance to get acquainted with their new school, tour the building, obtain their schedules, visit their lockers and participate in the hot dog barbecue.