WEB Program Helps Rising Students Ease into Middle School

     Published on 9/9/15   Tagged under:    District News   

With new teachers, new friends and a new building to get acclimated to, the transition from elementary to middle school—and middle to high school—can be overwhelming.
To help students ease into the change, several SCSD schools have created transition programs. At the high school level, new 9th graders at the Public Service Leadership Academy (PSLA) and the Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central (ITC) have the opportunity to participate in transition or bridge programs over the summer. Incoming middle school students at Clary, Danforth, Ed Smith, Frazer, Grant, Huntington, H.W. Smith, Lincoln, Roberts and Westside Academy at Blodgett are able to participate in the Where Everybody Belongs (WEB) program.
Initially offered last year to students at Grant Middle School, the program was so successful that this school year, it has expanded to all SCSD middle schools. For 6th graders entering middle school, the WEB program allows them to take part in small group activities led by 8th graders. Leading up to the start of the school year, the older students host an orientation, guiding the new students through the changes and challenges they will face as they make the transition to middle school.
H.W. Smith Guidance Counselor Todd Bradbury said the mentoring program is intended to help set students up for success by creating social bonds among them. “Peers can have an amazing influence on student success,” he explained. “So why not utilize this untapped resource and give our educators and our students some help at key times in their educational career to minimize the number of students that do slip through the cracks. It is very exciting!”
Jose Toro was a WEB leader at Grant in the program’s inaugural year and is now a freshman at Henninger High School. He said the experience guided him to include his peers when they seemed to be left out, and instilled in him a sense of leadership. “I had a hard time in sixth grade,” he said. “I didn’t want anyone else to go through that. With WEB, I learned that it doesn’t matter what grade you’re in, we should all learn to help each other.”
Classmate Sarah Wilson is also a former WEB leader. She said the program makes her feel like she made a positive difference. “It feels good to know that I helped someone get along better,” she said. “It’s great to make the new students to feel comfortable and help them to not be insecure about coming to middle school, like we were.”
Faculty coordinators say that while the WEB program is intended to help incoming sixth graders, its influence expands to the eighth grade leaders as well.
“The eighth graders always exceed our expectations,” Grant Library Media Specialist Jean Van Doren stated proudly.