By all accounts Ashley and Arin had a great summer. Ashley, a student from R.H. Cornish P.S. spent time at the cottage with her younger sister enjoying the great outdoors while Arin from S.A. Cawker did what most 13 year old boys love to do, he delved into video games. Ashley and Arin had never met before, but both decided with the help of family to quietly attend school for four days in August as did nearly 800 other graduating eight students entering high school for the first time across the Durham District School Board.
Ashley and Arin attended the 'Getting Ready for High School' program at Port Perry High School, a Ministry of Education initiative for transition planning from elementary to secondary school. The program helps students make a smooth and seamless transition from grade 8 to 9 by getting to know their new school and expectations.
"Getting Ready for High School recognizes that literacy and numeracy skills are keys to success in secondary school," says Paul Brown, principal at Durham Continuing Education who run the program at high schools across the DDSB. "We placed a strong focus on the areas of numeracy and literacy in our 'Getting Ready for High School' program for students," explains Brown.
Kandis Thompson, principal at Port Perry High School shares Brown's enthusiasm. "It's an excellent transition to high school program. It helps to remove the anxiety about entering high school by familiarizing our incoming students with the building and school procedures prior to the first day of school," says Thompson. "The program allows them to make some friends prior to the start of school.
Our guidance head gives them a brief orientation, they get their timetables and any changes are made if required.
"Parents are very appreciative of any assistance in helping their children through this changing time," says 'Getting Ready for High School' teacher Lara Shcherban-Porter. "On the first day, of the summer program several parents pull me aside and tell me that their daughter/son is REALLY nervous; by the last day, parents are relieved to see their child is more at ease with the upcoming changes and the nervousness has transformed into excitement about this next chapter in their education," says Shcherban-Porter.
The transition from elementary to secondary school is a significant time in a teenager's life and can be quite stressful explains Shcherban-Porter. Any new environment usually includes having to learn, and remember, a lot of information in a condensed period of time. Enrolling in the 'Getting Ready for High School' program affords students the time to get used to their new "school world" and ask questions before that first Tuesday after Labour Day. The students who take part in this program will, in turn, be able to assist their peers in acclimatizing to high school.
"This class helps to show me around the school and start to wake me up early again," says Arin who mentions he would usually be playing video games late and waking up around noon.
Ashley confesses her parents are happy she is getting out the house and coming to the school. This class "helps to remind me of the things you learned a few months ago because I forgot a lot of what I learned," says Ashley.
As far as what both students expect when high school begins, "fun" is a word that pops to mind.
"High school should be pretty fun. I'd like to try out for the rugby and football teams," says Arin. As for Ashley, "I'm happy with my timetable and happy to come to school. This course helped because now I can know where I'm going. I'm interested in the curling team and trying rugby," says an eager Ashley.