Collin Dilldine was a little concerned about the move from fourth grade to fifth. Now, the fifth-grader is so comfortable at Craig Intermediate School, he doesn't remember being leery at all.
The transition from one school to another can be daunting, especially when the change comes with some newfound independence and the thing that excites and scares children: Lockers.
"The biggest thing on their minds is lockers," Ridgeview Elementary School Principal Julie Baker said. "They worry about whether they'll be able to open them or not."
She eases their mind considerably by telling them they'll get lots of opportunities to practice opening locks before they get to their new school.
Craig Intermediate School officials do a lot to ease the transition for fourth-graders.
"We try to make sure we make it as easy as we can for the fourth-graders," CIS Counselor Tom Nagoda said. "But, the kids handle it really well. It's still school. It's still math and literacy."
The difference, he said, is that all of a sudden, if they stay in Moffat County, students are with their graduating class. They also go from staying with one class throughout the day to going to a school where their entire class changes rooms each period.
To get them ready, CIS officials take locks to elementary schools so students can learn to work a combination. Earlier this week, Nagoda and Principal Don Davidson visited fourth-graders to talk about what school's like at the next level.
Next week, fourth-graders will be bused to CIS to tour the school. They'll have another shot at a school tour just before school begins in August. Incoming students and their parents will be invited to the school to participate in some student-led counseling activities and a schoolwide scavenger hunt that allows them to familiarize themselves with the campus.
"We've refined this over the years to make it as comfortable as we can both for teachers and students," Nagoda said. "I think kids realize it's not that big of a deal when they get here."
The point is a seamless transition, and Baker thinks that the lengths officials go to make it so are necessary.
"It really causes a lot of apprehension for the kiddoes because it's just so unknown for them," she said.
At the elementary schools, officials work to prepare students by raising the bar from third to fourth grade to encourage more responsibility and independence.
"I really think the tour promotes a lot of excitement," Baker said. "The thought of so much independence is exciting and scary at the same time."
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.