Meridian Creek offers sixth graders a sneak peek into middle school before school starts

PMG PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL - Orchestra Instructor Carli Bates lets Blake Holder try out the instruments. Walking into a new environment can be hard, especially when transitioning from primary into middle school. Annikke Olson, principal at Meridian Creek Middle School, aims to help calm the nerves and relax anxieties that incoming sixth graders might feel when attending a new school.

During Meridian's Aug. 22 two-hour sixth grade sneak peek — an event that replaces the former sixth grade curriculum night — incoming students and their families had the opportunity to walk through class schedules, meet teachers and practice opening lockers prior to the first day of school. The PTSA was also available to answer questions and help families get connected through different lines of communication like Listserve so they can be informed about what's happening at the school.

Allison Holder and her son Blake enjoyed trying out the orchestra instruments with orchestra instructor Carli Bates. Blake tried playing instruments like the cello and violin.

"It's a whole new school for him (my son) and it's good for him to get familiar with what he's got coming up," Allison said. "It's just good to see all the classes, meet all the teachers. … He's ready for it. He's excited."

While other schools across the West Linn-Wilsonville School District have new student orientations, sneak peeks or other events that get new students in the building prior to the start of school, this is Meridian's first year following this format.

PMG PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL - Chloe Oswald meets her math teachers and walks through her school schedule. Last year, the school hosted a curriculum night after school started that invited all grade levels and their families to learn about the school and their child's classes — similar to an educational open house. Like other middle schools, Annikke said Meridian decided to have a separate event for incoming sixth graders to answer questions and ease nerves prior to the first day of school.

"We are trying to create this as an opportunity where parents can visualize what their kiddos day's going to look like," Olson said. "They really want a chance to get into the building before school starts."

Conrad Widing, incoming sixth grader, was nervous about finding his classes and being unable to figure out his locker combination in time to get to his next class. After trying the combination three times during the sneak peek event, he feels confident he can unlock his locker in time to transition in between classes.

"I feel good because I can know my way around. I talked to the teachers. It was pretty fun. All of them are super nice," Widing said. "I'm really excited about science and social studies (because of the) teachers, they're super nice and the math teacher is awesome."

PMG PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL  - Hannah Beckley gives her locker combination a try.While there were no student leaders helping during the sixth grade orientation, Olson said on the first day of school — which is sixth grade only — older students will lead tours and help with locker combinations.

"We do a ton of community building and learning about who we are at Meridian Creek and what we do here at Meridian Creek," Olson said.

During the 2019-20 school year, Meridian is also launching an advisory program. Students in each grade level will be split into groups of 15-17 for their advisory groups. The groups will meet for 30 minutes once a week to participate in social-emotional learning lessons and activities. Olson said the goal of the advisory groups are to create a space where students will feel safe and have the ability to communicate and be connected to peers and adults in the building.

PMG PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL  - Blake Holder samples the orchestra instruments.Chloe Oswald is looking forward to starting school because she says she embraces change and the sneak peek event made her feel better about walking in the doors Aug. 26.

"It's easier to see your classes and learn where you're going to have it and when you're going to have it, and meet your teachers," Oswald said. "It's a lot easier."PMG PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL - Wyatt Windsheimer practices his locker combination prior to school starting.

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