Students build community of trust

Railroader CampTransitioning from elementary school to middle school is easily one of the most difficult processes in an adolescent’s life, but faculty and staff at Whitehall School District have helped ease the process for incoming sixth graders.
There is a three-phase process for acclimating to the world of middle school; the first phase allows fifth graders to shadow sixth graders for a day, the second is a ‘fun day’ where the fifth and sixth graders participate in fun activities together, the third and final phase is called Railroader Camp and it took place last week.
Guidance Counselor Topher Montville, who helps coordinate the event, said that over the two years it has been in place it has built leaders within the middle school community.
“They become leaders amongst the class,” Montville explained. “It helps create an atmosphere for learning that is supportive and empathetic.”
The school works with the Council for Prevention to create this event, the Council gets the grants and some of the middle school faculty and staff coordinate the activities and team building experiences that take place throughout the week.
“We have a general curriculum for character education and then we tie in the fun activities to help build peer support,” Montville added.
This year’s camp saw 20 incoming sixth graders involved, three of which were not only new to the middle school, but new to the district as a whole. One such new student, Adrianna Chenier quickly bonded and became friends with Cobra Herlihy, who is not new to the district. Montville said that type of interaction is what this program is all about.
“These kinds of programs cannot be put into monetary means\,” Montville stated, “This builds a positive environment and students pick up on the positivity because they are like sponges.”
After their week of team building, peer interactions and character building; the students made a trip up to Huletts Landing with the friends they already had, the friends they made and the educators who helped facilitate the camp.

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