Spar­rows Point MS, HS wel­come stu­dents

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By CHARLENE MAYO cmayo@ches­pub.com Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Char_DEa­gle

In an ef­fort to make tran­si­tion­ing into a new school smooth and easy, Spar­rows Point High School and Spar­rows Point Mid­dle School fac­ulty and staff went into the com­mu­nity to wel­come the in­com­ing class.

Last year, ad­min­is­tra­tion from Spar­rows Point High and alumni formed a wel­come wagon and vis­ited fresh­men’s homes but only reached out to 40 stu­dents who were in close prox­im­ity to the school.

It was such a suc­cess that they de­cided to ex­pand with a larger group, vis­it­ing the homes of 178 fresh­man that be­gan their high school ca­reer this year.

For two days, the group knocked on doors for 14 hours to speak to the fresh­men and their par­ents and hand out bags with school sup­plies in them.

The school bag in­cluded fold­ers, pen­cils, pens, note­books, high­lighters and in­for­ma­tion about the school.

If stu­dents weren’t home they left the bag of sup­plies on the door­knob.

Spar­rows Point High School prin­ci­pal Emily Caster ini­ti­ated the idea and al­ge­bra teacher Lind­say Ham­mer co­or­di­nated every­thing.

“It was pow­er­ful to get into the com­mu­nity and see where our kids live,” Caster said.

Ac­cord­ing to Caster, some stu­dents were pre­pared and wait­ing for them to ar­rive, some were still sleep­ing when they got there, some were sur­prised and some weren’t home, so they left the school bag.

“Some stu­dents were stunned, but I think over­all it was a pos­i­tive,” Ham­mer said.

“They were ex­cited that we came to their homes to wel­come them to school,” she added.

Ac­cord­ing to Ham­mer, Spar­rows Point High ad­min­is­tra­tors want the new stu­dents to feel a sense of be­long­ing and to know that there are peo­ple that can help them.

“We want them to know that although it’s a new school, you have some­one to talk to,” Ham­mer said.

“It was good for staff to see and un­der­stand where their stu­dents live and the com­mu­ni­ties they come from,” Caster said.

Teach­ers and staff came in on their last week of sum­mer to pre­pare for the new school year and make school bags for stu­dents.

“Any­thing that helps kids tran­si­tion is what we want,” Caster said.

While Spar­rows Point High School staff mem­bers were walk­ing door-to-door to wel­come their in­com­ing stu­dents, Spar­rows Point Mid­dle School staff reached out to their in­com­ing sixth graders through events at the school and feeder el­e­men­tary schools.

More than 100 stu­dents and their fam­i­lies gath­ered to­gether at Bat­tle Grove El­e­men­tary, where stu­dents and par­ents got to meet their teach­ers, ask ques­tions and get to know each other.

“I know what it’s like for a fifth grader to leave el­e­men­tary school and start mid­dle school,” prin­ci­pal Jen­nifer Gounaris said.

“We want to give out as much as­sis­tance as pos­si­ble,” she noted.

Ac­cord­ing to Gounaris, staff mem­bers help kids prac­tice us­ing com­bi­na­tion locks.

The start of the school year for a sixth grader is seam­less, ac­cord­ing to Gounaris, which is why they build re­la­tion­ships with stu­dents be­fore they step into the build­ing.

Stu­dents gath­ered at Ch­e­sa­peake Ter­race and Egde­mere El­e­men­tary for sim­i­lar events dur­ing the same week.

Those who couldn’t at­tend any of the events be­fore school got to at­tend a small event in the cafe­te­ria.

Ac­cord­ing to Spar­rows Point High and Spar­rows Point Mid­dle School of­fi­cials, the fac­ulty will con­tinue to do what it takes to build solid foun­da­tions for their stu­dents.

COUR­TESY PHOTO

Spar­rows Point High School, staff, alumni and com­mu­nity mem­bers as­sem­ble school bags be­fore go­ing door-to-door

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