Clayton fifth-graders explore middle school

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Curt Yeomans


Kayla Hill said she is excited about beginning life as a middle school student, at Jonesboro Middle School, in the fall.

Hill, 10, a fifth-grader at James A. Jackson Elementary School, said she is looking forward to all of the different types of student clubs -- such as band, orchestra, chorus and cheerleading -- that will be available to join. She said she is also anxious to find out what the teachers at her soon-to-be new school are like.

She said she still has one thing to figure out, though.

"I don't know how to work the combination on the locker," she said.

On Thursday, fifth-graders from every elementary school in Clayton County hopped on a school bus, and took a short trip to the middle school they are expected to attend next year, for fifth-grade orientation presentations.

"They go to the middle school they will be going to next year, to get them acclimated, and prepared, so they know what the school looks like, so they won't be intimidated when they start attending these schools next year," said school system Coordinator of Elementary Social Studies Robert "Bob" DeLuca, who organized the fifth-grade orientations this year.

Jonesboro Middle School Principal Freda Givens estimated that she had an extra 300 students in her school alone while the fifth-graders were visiting the school. As the incoming middle school students arrived at Jonesboro Middle School, each pupil was given a red folder (red is one of the school's colors), with a pamphlet explaining class changes, uniform dress, lockers and school rules.

Jonesboro Middle School students then took the fifth-graders on a walk down the sixth-grade hall, past the classrooms and media center, to the school's cafeteria.

Jonesboro Middle School Sixth-Grade Chairperson Sharon Reddick then gave a PowerPoint presentation on what is expected of students who attend the school. Among the things Reddick told the students was, that they needed to be organized, and have good study, note-taking and listening skills, to be successful at the middle school level.

"How is middle school different from elementary school?" Reddick asked the students. "Well, there are different classes, and new rules in middle school."

After Reddick's presentation, the visiting fifth-graders went into the Jonesboro Middle School gymnasium to hear performances by the school's eighth-grade chorus, orchestra and band.

Givens said the purpose of Jonesboro Middle School's program was to let the incoming students see something they might be familiar with -- other students who are not that much older than the incoming middle school students.

"We wanted them to see other students who are just like them, and are doing exceptionally well academically, and artistically, at this school," Givens said. "We want to try and relieve their fears as much as possible before they start attending the school. We like to have the students feel comfortable when they get here in the fall."

Lee Street Elementary School fifth-grader, Jada Vines, 10, who is scheduled to attend Jonesboro Middle School in the fall, said the visit to the school only made her excited about the middle school experience. She said she is looking forward to all aspects of middle school life, from taking new classes to having new teachers that she has never met before.

She is even excited about having her own locker.

"I like the idea of having a locker, because you get to put your stuff in there and lock it up," Vines said.