Mount Airy Middle School held its fifth annual “Camp Middle School” this week to help rising sixth-graders take a little of the edge off moving up from elementary school.
According to Mount Airy Middle School Principal Joey Hearl, the camp is sponsored by the Partnership for Drug Free North Carolina as one of the group’s ongoing programs to warn students about the dangers of drug abuse. Hearl said he greatly appreciates the efforts of partnership volunteers including John Elmore and Teri Fowler for their support of the camp.
“I really like it (camp),” said rising sixth-grader Kyndall Harman. “I already understood a little about sixth grade. I enjoyed the cup stacking game and making the T-shirts. It has been a whole lot of help practicing with the locks.”
Sarah Chaney, who is from the Millennium Charter Academy, was positive about the camp.
“I loved this camp. Now a lot more makes sense to me,” said Chaney. “This is my first time in a public school, and it’s different but I enjoy it.”
The two-and-a-half-day camp included teamwork building games, crafts such as making their own tie-dyed T-shirts, tours of the school and seminars on school rules, policies and understanding class schedules. Most of the discussions for the students ranged from getting the children used to the class bell schedule to where the cafeteria is located.
“One area that concerns new students is working the combination locks for their lockers,” explained Hearl. “We let them practice. The camp is also nice for students to meet classmates from other schools.” He said that sixth-grade teachers introduce themselves to the middle school campers so they can put a face with the name later.
“We try to keep it a laid back atmosphere,” said Hearl. “We go over rules and let them ask questions. We try to make it fun for kids to come to. A lot of the things we do in middle school involve teamwork.” Hearl said that the school can expect about 145 sixth-graders this year. He said a total of 70 participated on the camp’s first day, Tuesday.
“It’s very impressive to have that many participate. Not bad for summer, when you consider it competes with things such as family vacations,” said Hearl. He indicated he first came in contact with a similar program when he served as an assistant principal in Stokes County.
Hearl said he feels the camp helps on many levels but most importantly in its adding a confidence level to students and their parents.
“It’s a big step from elementary to middle school,” said Hearl. “Parents feel better when students go home and share what they have learned about the school with them.”
Hearl also said that many schools do some type of orientation but they keep their program with more emphasis on the rising sixth-graders.
The school has scheduled its open house for Aug. 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. The open house is for all students and they may get their class schedules at the event.
“Sometimes it is to easy for staff to get up and go at the start of the school year and forget about the anxiety of students in new surroundings,” added Hearl. “We are very blessed to have outstanding students, staff and parents. We have the whole nine yards which makes it a pleasure to work with people in Mount Airy.”
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.