6th-graders get peek at middle school before classes begin Monday Mount Airy students find it scary, but fun

August 23, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Starting middle school is a little scary and exciting.

You have to worry about finding your way around in a bigger school. But it's also fun. And one of the best things is that you get a locker. With a real lock.

That's the view of some of the 240 students who will begin sixth grade Monday at Mount Airy Middle School.

The sixth-graders and their parents filled the chairs and bleachers of the school's sweltering gym Wednesday night to meet teachers and administrators.

Clutching pink fact sheets, the group learned about the Parent-Teacher-Student Organization and received a briefing on finer points, such as the school's Homework Hotline, which provides parents with a recording of daily assignments.

Principal Virginia G. Ashmore, beginning her first year head of the school, recalled a principal with whom she once worked who eased incoming middle school students' fears by telling them: "If you can remember your name when you get to middle school, we can tell you everything else."

"And that's true," Ashmore said.

School records list each student's grade level, homeroom, bus number, parents' or guardians' names and more.

Mark Mullinix, 12, who left Mount Airy Elementary School, said he's not worried because he expects middle school to be fun. He is looking forward to spending a week camping at Hashawha Environmental Appreciation Center.

Mark said he didn't think having "cool" clothes was important, but most of the other girls and a few boys who were interviewed disagreed with him.

Cool clothes are important, said Natalie Gahm, a former Mount Airy Elementary School student who is "almost 11." She buys her clothes at Sears and favors tights and granny boots.

Michael Hardesty, 11, formerly of Winfield Elementary School, looks forward to meeting new students. The right clothes, such as Goosebumps wear -- clothing based on a series of popular books that mix horror with humor -- are important, he said.

"You want to look cool," he said.

Emily Will, 11, who came from Eldersburg Elementary School, said she felt "kind of excited because we get to use lockers, but kind of nervous because it's big."

Many students said the school tour helped ease their fears.

"Do you think you can get to your homeroom from the bus?" one mother asked her daughter as they left the building.

"Yes," came the confident reply. "Follow the [stairs]."

Teacher Jake Barkett, who teaches sixth- and seventh-grade math, said the most-often-asked questions were: "Can I have lock on my locker?" and "Are we going to have a lot of homework?"

The answers: Yes. The school encourages students to lock their lockers; and homework is given in reasonable amounts.

Pub Date: 8/23/96

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