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home : columnists : columnists August 21, 2017

7/31/2017 4:00:00 AM
Time to start middle school
The Times photo by Betsy ReasonBetsy Reasonís daughter, a new middle-schooler, quickly figured out how to use a combination lock to get into her new locker.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason

Betsy Reasonís daughter, a new middle-schooler, quickly figured out how to use a combination lock to get into her new locker.
By Betsy Reason

Only one more day until I get out the tissues for a good cry. Tuesday will be an emotional one as I put my daughter on the school bus for her first day as a middle-schooler.

Yes, she will be a big sixth-grader at Noblesville East Middle School.

Last Wednesday, we visited the school for the second time, her third. She found her classrooms, got her school schedule, and received her assigned hall locker.

It's a big adjustment from fifth grade when the only time students changed classes was to go to computer, art, gym or music, which alternated at the same time every school day.

Sixth grade has its own wing, where we found all of the core classrooms and hall locker.

NEMS principal Ryan Rich greeted us in the hallway. In May, at the Sixth Grade Parent Night, he told us that the incoming sixth-grade class is the district's largest on record, with 420 sixth-graders expected to be enrolled for the 2017-18 school year. Our outgoing fifth-graders had 365 incoming sixth-graders, he said.

The Meet in the Middle school tour event for students and parents last Wednesday was one of the school's "carefully-planned events" to ease the transition from elementary to middle school.

Sixth-graders are divided up on four teams, West Point, Stanford, DePauw and Wisconsin, led by teachers who coordinate tests and homework. Counselors will loop with the sixth-graders to get to know their students and families. My daughter was assigned to the West Point team. Each team has its own area within the sixth-grade wing.

Sixth-graders are never in the hallways with seventh- or eighth-graders. Each grade is on a different class schedule with different bells. They have three different lunch periods. They will never see each other except on the school bus, we were told.

Speaking of school bus, our bus driver phoned on Saturday to say that the pickup schedule posted online was incorrect and that our stop would be about 15 minutes earlier, which also means about 80 minutes earlier than last school year. Middle school starts at 7:35 a.m., more than an hour before elementary school.

My daughter's core classes of math, social studies, language arts, science and design and modeling are all before lunch, then she goes to the diversified arts and performing arts classes after lunch because she signed up to play flute in the band and sing in the choir.

While we were at the school last Wednesday, we met some of the teachers.

We also found my daughter's assigned locker, in which she unloaded her backpack of required school supplies, including some nonrequired, like a locker mirror and some decorative magnets.

But before she could put away any of her supplies, she had to unlock the combination. While I remember from school how to use a combination lock, I noticed that the instructions were also conveniently posted on her locker, another way the school helps to "ease the transition."

And while it took her a few tries to figure out how to use the combination lock, she finally "got it."

On Tuesday, I have confidence she'll be able to open her locker, find her classrooms and her way around the new school.

I know she's going to love sixth grade. But I think I'm still going to cry.

-Contact me at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.

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