The Strange Change of the School Exchange

Max GreenMay 2, 2024Crisis & ChangeHelping Hands

Artwork by Arina Stetsiuk, age 14

In 2023 I experienced a gigantic change that millions of 10- and 11-year-olds face: transitioning from elementary school to middle school.

Before starting middle school, I was really excited and slightly nervous; one of my best friends from elementary school was also going to the school, and I was eager to meet new people and make new friends. However, when we finally got our classes I realized I did not know anybody who was in my class, which made me more nervous. Overall I was mostly excited and ready for middle school.

When I was nearing the end of fifth grade in June, the staff of MS 447 organized an orientation for the soon-to-be-sixth graders. I can guarantee that most of the kids in sixth grade would say that it was fun. I completely agree. We met new people, made some friends, and did an icebreaker in a stress-free situation. There are a few kids I met there who I still talk to. Also, the principal taught us a little bit about MS 447 and what makes it unique from other schools. I really appreciate that the staff at my school worked as hard as they did to make us feel more comfortable.

On the first two days of middle school the teachers organized welcome days, a time when students could talk and socialize, make new friends, meet some teachers, and of course learn how to get around the school. Although a few people thought that the welcome days were boring, I thought they were pretty fun, definitely better than real schoolwork. The last one was extremely important, because after we introduced ourselves to each other we had to find our way around the building and that did not end well. A few other kids and I had to find the eighth grade Spanish classroom to talk about a book we were forced to read over the summer. Sadly, we didn’t have directions and it took us about 20 minutes walking around the building until we finally found the place. It was fun though, I met new people on my way there. Inconveniently, we only had a tour of our building after we got lost. I thought it was very considerate for our teachers to give us a couple of days to ease into sixth grade. I got a tour of the building, but more importantly I met new people and made new friends.

They also reinstated a tradition from before COVID-19 and in November took our grade to Camp Bernie, which is a camp all the way over in New Jersey. It was a really great experience for me and many other kids who went. We were put into cabins with people from other classes, many of whom I didn’t know. We were also put into different groups for meals and activities. I participated in a karaoke night, zip line, climbing obstacle, tie-dye, basketball, team building, and just hanging out. At Camp Bernie, I made many friends and became better friends with people I already knew. I really appreciated that the staff took the time to do a fundraiser and organize an overnight trip just to help us make friends. My experience at Camp Bernie definitely made the transition from elementary school to middle school more smooth.

I really respect that the administration created so many opportunities to help us fit in and get into the groove of our new school. Although I would have been fine, many kids might have struggled with switching to a new school, a new schedule, and new classes. So everything the teachers did was definitely very thoughtful. From organizing an orientation with all sixth graders, to taking us on a trip to Camp Bernie, to hosting welcome days where we got to know our teachers, building, and classmates, the staff at my school helped make my transition to middle school more fun and stress free.