Transition camp

Children who will be third-graders at School Street Elementary School in a few weeks participated in a transition camp at the school on Tuesday. The camp included outdoor games, such as this make-shift tennis game in the school parking lot that used balloons and fly swatters instead of tennis balls and rackets.

Moving into a new elementary school can be difficult for younger children who are shy or uncertain of new teachers and classmates.

Administrators at School Street Elementary School, as well as at George G. Blaisdell (GGB) Elementary School, realized the importance of a seamless transition and have helped enhance it through programs at the campuses this week. The events are designed for the children to meet their teachers and fellow classmates, and become familiar with the schools.

On Tuesday at School Street, Principal Sarah Tingley said the one-day morning camp has been conducted for a number of years for children moving up from GGB into the third grade at the campus. Approximately 100 out of the 160 children enrolled attended the optional event.

At GGB, pre-K and kindergarten children also have attended a three-day transition morning camp this week to acclimate to the school.

“It’s good for the students to do this without their parents,” Tingley said. “Not that we don’t encourage parental involvement or family engagement, but it builds their confidence and they know that they can do this and be OK. Parents need to see that, too.”

She added, “Really, the whole purpose here is to make sure the kids have fun and let them get used to the building and answer their questions. Hopefully, if they spend three hours here they’ll feel a little more comfortable” when they return for the first day of classes Aug. 23.

Richille DeNora, a third-grade teacher who will be the math implement intern specialist for teachers, said she had taught third grade students the past six years.

“I love this because for the kids this is their first impression” of the school, DeNora explained. “They did have a tour (at the end of second grade) but this is the first time they actually get to meet their classmates and see all their teachers.”

Others who helped at the camp were Julie Speaker, school counselor, who conducted an activity for the children, while third-grade teachers supervised outdoor games for the kids before they ate lunch in the cafeteria.

The outdoor games, in honor of the summer Olympic games taking place in Japan, were the idea of teacher Becca Ward, who designed the make-shift games with DeNora and teacher Kay Bechelli.

“The Olympics are happening and we just happened to be in school, so I thought it would be a good time to do this,” Ward said. “We had to make them classroom-style so they’re slightly different.”

For example, swimming pool noodles were used for the javelin throw competition and balloons and fly swatters were used instead of tennis balls and rackets.

Kids who commented on the camp included a little girl in Linnea Pollock’s class who said she liked the camp as it “is brand new to us and we never went to this school before, but our dad went to this school.”

Another girl added, “It’s really cool because there are a lot of new teachers, there’s newer people and everyone gets to meet them.”

A little boy then quietly admitted, “This is my first time at the school and I’m pretty nervous.”

To that, Tingley replied that this is why the camp is held as it helps children overcome their nervousness and jitters.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at kates_th@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)