Harley Copenharve confidently walked through Soldotna Middle School recently. Stopping at his locker, he expertly rotated the dial of his combination lock, missing the first try but his efforts were redeemed with next.
Harley, a new seventh-grader at the school, spent two days with 17 other newcomers during the Soldotna Middle School Transitions program held Aug. 7 and 8.
Just a few lockers to the right, his friend, Cody Little, opened his locker on the first try.
The inside of the locker was decorated with art the group made earlier in the day. Cody said the two-days were helpful.
“We have been practicing going to our classes and to our locker,” he said.
Then he held up his schedule that had been folded many times.
“This was really helpful,” he said, about the paper that held a map of the school, his locker combination and his classes.
Harley and Cody both said the Transitions Program has been a good experience. They learned the school rules, timed themselves getting to class locations, received their class schedule and played games. The activities encouraged the students from six feeder schools to initiate themselves into the new school.
Harley, who attended Soldotna Elementary last year, said he was a bit nervous about remembering his classes and knowing the shortest way there. But the activities have helped make him more comfortable with SMS.
“I was most excited learning about the school and what to expect,” he said.
He said he was ready to start school on Aug. 20, and is prepared with the supplies the students received as a part of the program.
Former Redoubt Elementary student C.J. Mayer said he was sort of excited for school to start, but he was quite fond of the red LL Bean backpack he had flung to across his right shoulder after filling it with all the supplies provided.
“I think it is cool,” he said.
On the way to his locker, several kids in the hall greeted C.J. Once at his locker he quickly maneuvers the combination
“I already have my locker combo down,” he said. “I twist it three times to the right, then I do my combo.”
During some down time in the library, the new seventh-graders sat quietly while taking a survey administered by SMS science teacher Patrick Dwyer. Dwyer said he believes the program has been a good experience, and the students have learned with they need to have productive new school year.
“They definitely have a great start,” he said.
During the two days the kids interacted as a class and really got to know each other through games and learning. .
“So when they come to school they will have a friend to sit with at lunch,” he said. “When school starts, they know what to do and the rules,” Dwyer said.
Sheilah-Margaret Pothast, a history teacher at the school, said the busy two day program has give the kids a little extra boost.
“It is a big deal,” she said. “We really want the kids to feel comfortable.”