Faith Moss is no longer afraid to go to high school.
“I’m learning to handle myself in high school and do my work,” the rising freshman said. “I’m not scared anymore.”
Faith is one of 123 Bibb County students who will be one step ahead when they enter high school in August. The students, most of whom will go to Southwest High School, attended the Summer Bridge program, which helps rising freshmen transition from middle school to high school.
“We tell them what the expectations are,” said Regina English, the Summer Bridge coordinator. “It’s very important because it gives them that orientation, so they feel connected to the school community, and it gives them the confidence they need.”
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The program, open to any student from Southwest’s feeder middle schools, gives students both academic and social preparations for high school. All students take English and math classes, largely because they will be required to take a state writing test in high school and also to help boost math test scores, English said.
Additionally, schools across Georgia recently switched to the new Common Core standards, which require more rigorous math lessons.
“Since we made the change to Common Core, it has been tough for children to transition,” she said.
The summer program, which just wrapped up its third year, also offers a Freshman 101 class. The course not only offers tips for overcoming freshman jitters, it also concentrates on building students’ character.
Teachers, who are paid through a Title I grant, encourage students to list their life goals and determine their strengths and their weaknesses. It’s an exercise that is important for anyone, but especially for children who are making such a big change.
“The peer influence is strong during this time,” English said, “and their character is what’s going to see them through. They need to stay on their strong side.”
One afternoon, a class chuckled as students performed a skit. In another classroom, Jada Thomas bent over her notebook, studying new math problems.
“We get to prepare for high school,” said Jada, 15. “I’ve learned a lot of stuff I haven’t learned in regular school.”
Almaro Duehart, 14, particularly enjoyed the Freshman 101 class, where he mapped out his career plans. Almaro, a rising Southwest High School student, plans to be a nurse one day.
“This really gets us ready for ninth grade,” he said.
Antonio Goodrum has spent his summer teaching English to students at Southwest. Not only has he seen students “blossom” over the past few weeks, but he has worked with some talented children. In fact, he plans to enter some of the students’ writings in state contests.
“I’m really optimistic about the class of 2018,” he said.
To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 744-4331.