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Back to School: Port Chester Helps New 6th Graders Adjust to Middle School

They got a chance to know their homeroom peers through a series of team-building exercises

opened its doors and welcomed a new crop of sixth graders from Edison, JFK Magnet, King Street and Park Avenue schools Wednesday.

The new sixth graders will be joined by the seventh and eighth graders on today and for the rest of the year but the middle school was all theirs Wednesday.

Check out the video and photo gallery from the day's activities in this .

“When I became principal a couple of years ago, I thought it was important that we have a morning where the kids can feel good about coming to the middle school for the first time,” said Port Chester Middle School Principal Patrick Swift. “Today is about coming into school with no books and no pencils and no anxiety. It’s all about character development and team building. The entire staff is involved in working on these exercises with the children.”

The day was scheduled around a series of different team building activities that included untying a human knot, red light green light and fix it – a game where a piece of paper is crumpled, tossed to the floor and stomped on. The children do their best to fix the paper but no matter how hard they try the creases remain there, a metaphor for picking on someone. No matter how many apologies one gives, sometimes the hurt feelings, like the creases, will remain there.

The youngsters were given their homeroom assignments and their lockers before sitting down to lunch together.

“So the ultimate goal is that when the kids come in to learn tomorrow morning, they will know and be comfortable with every single person in their homeroom," Swift said. "The kids are coming in eager and the teachers are all outstanding and they all buy into it.”

“I think it’s pretty cool” said incoming sixth grader Tayshaun Epps. “Today has been fun but my favorite part is that we have been able to meet a lot of new kids.”

Middle school is a huge adjustment for children. Many kids have been in the same elementary school, with the same friends and teachers for as long as they can remember. Suddenly, things are much bigger and much different which can be stressful for anyone.

“Coming into the sixth grade can be very intimidating when they see all the seventh and eighth graders walking around,” said Middle School teacher Paul Santavicca. “They are coming from four different elementary schools so a day like this where they can all spend time getting to know each other is huge for their confidence. It is just their school today.” 

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