Summer Transition Camps Making Move to Middle School Easier

Fondren, Key and other middle schools holding transition camps for incoming sixth-graders

July 20, 2011

Incoming sixth-grade student Destinei Spotsville admits she was a little nervous at first about making the transition from elementary to middle school. “I know it’s going to be harder and more challenging,” says the 12-year-old. But thanks to “Mustang Summer Mania” at Fondren Middle School, Destinei says she is now much more at ease and has a better idea what to expect when school starts next month. “My expectation is to keep my grades up, have good behavior, and not just concentrate on making friends, but actually learning so I can go to college.”

“Mustang Summer Mania” is a free, three-week summer camp for incoming Fondren sixth-graders, which is designed to make them feel welcome on the Southwest Houston campus. It’s also a time to get the students used to a new curriculum. Fondren is in the process of transitioning to an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme, thanks to a federal magnet grant. It will be one of only two middle schools in the district offering the curriculum, which focuses on creating well-rounded students by applying classroom instruction to real-world events.

“IB is really a curriculum that works for our school, because we have students from all over the world, including Nepal, Korea, and Nigeria, just to name a few,” says Fondren Magnet Coordinator Karissa Ogle. “The IB curriculum is rigorous, but it also gives students a global picture of what the world is all about.”

Fondren isn’t the only middle school making an effort to prepare students for the transition from elementary to middle school. Key Middle School has been holding “Cougar Camp” this summer to get its incoming sixth-graders acclimated to its teachers, campus, and the increased academic rigor middle school brings.

“As they move into middle school, we want them to become more independent in their thinking and to hone their critical-thinking skills,” says Key science teacher Angela Glover. “We want them to know it’s okay to make a mistake, but from that mistake, don’t give up. Just try again and figure out how to fix it.”

Glover has been teaching kids at Key’s “Cougar Camp” to make paper airplanes and launch them outside the school. The event is fun and full of laughs for the students, but it’s also teaching them about velocity, height, and how to work as a team with classmates they’ve just met.

“This camp just gives them a chance to experience middle school on a much smaller scale, so when they come in August and are surrounded by hundreds of students, they won’t be so overwhelmed,” says Key teacher Marvin Ewing. “Plus, it also shows them that learning can be fun and not just staring at a book all day.”