6th Grade Orientation at Sunridge Middle School
What if you were a sixth grader and the first time you entered your new middle school was in mid-March? That’s the experience the sixth graders at Sunridge Middle School had today, March 17th, when an excited staff greeted them for orientation. The majority of these students have been doing Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) since September, seeing their teachers on a computer screen from their homes. But today, it was totally different.
“Seeing their faces, even in masks, instead of on camera and seeing the smiles in their eyes is so great! Even with the students’ nervousness, this is a great day,” said Karen Weber, Paraprofessional at SMS. Weber, standing in the sunshine near the student car drop-off area, was happy, but emotional. “I feel like I am going to cry from happiness.”
After students were dropped off by their parents or by bus, they were directed to enter several different exterior doors closest to their first classroom to avoid too much time in hallways. Sixth grader Olivia Allen sat in her classroom, eager to get started. “I feel so excited and can’t wait to get a tour of the school. I don’t care if we had to wait until March, April or May, I’m just happy to be here,” she said.
William Freeman, sixth grader, said he expected the school and classrooms at SMS to be a little bigger. “It’s going to be hard because we have to sometimes go outside the school to get to different classes, but it’s nice to be here.”
Today’s Sixth Grade Orientation means sixth graders can experience the school by themselves, as they would have in a regular year. Students are divided into AM and PM cohorts for physical distancing; morning cohorts run from 8:30 to 11:20 AM and afternoons run from 12:30 to 3:20 PM. Students attend periods 1, 2, 3 and 5 on Gold Days and 6, 7, 8 and Advisory on Green Days five days a week. Classrooms are cleaned between class periods and sanitized thoroughly between cohorts. On the Monday after Spring Break, March 29th, the sixth graders will return along with seventh and eighth graders in the building.
SMS Principal Dave Williams said the staff have worked hard to measure spaces, organize traffic patterns with arrows on the floor, learn and train on safety protocols, divide students into cohorts with parent input and more. “We are absolutely ecstatic to see our students today. We have been waiting a year for this,” Williams said. Detailed planning and thinking through multiple scenarios has helped, Williams said, “but in 27 years of education, I have never opened a building for the “first” day of school like this. Our priority is for students and staff to be safe and we are ready.”