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August 11, 2017 07:09 AM

'Welcome To Junior High' Program Eases Transition

Sioux Falls

There's only about 10 days left until students at O'Gorman Junior High kick off the school year. But the incoming seventh graders are already walking the halls.

It doesn't always open on the first try. 

Yet incoming O'Gorman Junior High seventh graders will have some practice before the first day of school.

"There's often sometimes some anxiety associated with moving to a bigger building and a new school and this gives them an opportunity to feel comfortable in a new setting," Principal Wade Charron said. 

That's why the school puts on a program called 'Welcome To Junior High'.

About half of the incoming 170 seventh graders are participating in the program which adjusts them to everything at O'Gorman. They'll practice opening lockers, meeting the school resource officer and even running through their schedules. 

And they have some help, too. 

"If we don't know where to go, they'll point us toward that direction," seventh grader Nathan Ratzlaff said. 

"They're very nervous about getting lost. I'm like, 'You're not going to get lost." So just kind of reassuring them that they'll be fine and that everything will be good," former O'Gorman Junior High student Elaina Lubeck.

And in just four days, everyone is seeing the benefits.

"It gives you a headstart," Ratzlaff said. 

"You could just see the nervousness and the anxiety in their eyes, in their gestures and the way they were interacting with each other. And then once the week started unfolding, you saw kids reaching out to other students from different classes and different communities and different schools," co-coordinator Julie Manning said. 

Sioux Falls Public Schools have a similar program called Running Start where incoming middle school students can get adjusted to their new routine.

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