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Parents And School Officials Work To Make Middle School Transition Easier

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Today is the first day of school for most Texas public school kids, and for a lot of sixth graders that means feeling nervous about starting middle school. Parents and administrators try to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

Victoria Rosales is 11 years old and today is her first day as a sixth grader at Harris Academy in the San Antonio Independent School District. During an interview last week, she said she’s had the jitters. 

"I feel like on the first day of school that when you go to your classes you’re not going to see any of your friends and be by yourself," Victoria says.

She’s also afraid of going to the wrong class, getting lost and being late, she says. Her mother, Juanita Rosales, who volunteers at the school, says there’s more.

"She’s nervous about other kids making fun of her. She’s worried about being bullied. I try to assure her that she’ll be fine, that she’ll do good, for her to ask for help if she ever needs it. Teachers are always around. Teachers are always willing to help, and always reminding students they’re there if they need anything," Juanita Rosales says.

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Juanita Rosales

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Carol Velasquez.jpg

Carol Velasquez is the principal at Harris Academy. She says children at this age are finding themselves, which can make the transition from elementary to middle school even scarier. She says they don’t yet know who they are and then there are those mood swings.

"They can be happy one moment, sad the next moment, happy right again. I really feel as long as they have people they can talk to and they form relationships not only with their teachers but also with their peers—it’s really a nice evolvement to see them from sixth grade to eighth grade and the changes that they go through. It’s just a natural part of their development," Velasquez says.  

To help with the transition, Velasquez says they start with a summer orientation and a tour of the school so that incoming students know what to expect.

"We do also have the sixth graders when they get to school on the very first day, we started having them in the cafeteria, so that it’s a more structured environment. I think the parents are relieved that they’re not with the other seventh and eighth graders because they’re apprehensive of them being with all the other students especially their first day," Velasquez says.

She says it’s worked out so that the sixth graders have had a safe place to go. 

Victoria’s brother, Joel, is going into the eighth grade. He says looking back to sixth grade, he can relate to how Victoria feels.

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Joel Rosales

"I was nervous like she was—going to the wrong class, not knowing anybody," Joel says.

Joel, who is two years older that his sister, offered some advice to her.

"Um. It’s ok to be scared, you know? Because everybody’s scared. What’s important is that you make new friends and that you pay attention in class and it will be all fine. It’s going to be really fun, too. I had fun in sixth grade. I miss sixth grade," Joel says.

Victoria smiles.

"... Now I know that I can feel better and not be scared," she says.

For other sixth graders who are still feeling nervous today, Velasquez says most students start to get into the swing of things in about a couple weeks.