Success Camps ease transition for incoming freshmen

Some incoming high school freshmen are worried about getting lost on campus and making friends.

Others worry about getting shoved in the hallways or thrown into a trash bin. They worry about grades, homework, where to sit at lunch and how to study for tests.

This year, the Federal Way School District hopes to quell those worries with week-long Summer Success Camps at middle and high schools. The camps are aimed at easing the transition from middle school into high school, and from elementary school into middle school. At the high school level, students opted to participate in the camps for a half academic credit. In middle school, students were recommended for the program by their fifth-grade teachers.

Students participated in various team-building activities and listened to lectures from upperclassmen on topics such as studying, peer-pressure, time management and how to use the computers.

Todd Beamer High School curriculum assistant principal David Brower said he hopes the summer camp participants become leaders for their peers when classes start.

“When everyone else is lost on the first day, I have 70 freshmen who know their way around campus. They know their way around the lunch line. They know where the library is,” Brower said. “If it does nothing more than reduce their anxiety level, then I think we’ve been successful.”

Brandi, an incoming freshman at Todd Beamer High School, said she chose to participate in the camp because she wants to do everything she can to get good grades and go on to college.

“My goal is to get straight As all four years and I want to be a stellar student,” said Brandi, whose parents requested her last name not be used.

Brandi said that since participating in the camp, she feels more confident and enthusiastic about the start of school on Sept. 2. She had been worried about older students bullying her in the hallways.

“I thought there would be a lot of high-schoolers pushing you through the hallways and picking on you,” she said.

After talking to one of the teachers at the success camp, Brandi was relieved to learn that her fears were unfounded.

“She said in her whole teaching career she’s never seen anyone put in the garbage can,” Brandi said.

In the hallways, Brandi said she realized she may get bumped into because of the large crowd. But if she does get pushed, it was probably an accident. If the same person continues to push her in the hallway, she plans to tell an adult.

Among the skills for success Brandi learned at camp were organizational habits.

“If you know where everything is, there’s no excuse to not get good grades or study more,” she said.

She advises other incoming freshmen to not be scared of high school.

“It’s not going to bite you. You don’t need to be afraid of it,” she said.

Destiny McDonald, who will begin classes at Todd Beamer as a freshman this year, said she was worried about making friends in high school. She was pleased to make several new friends at the success camp. She also is more confident she will be able to find her way around campus on the first day of class.

“I kind of learned about the school and how it looks like and how to get around a little better,” McDonald said.

She learned from the camp staff, which included upperclassmen, to pay attention in class and keep up on studying.

“They tell you to have fun, but don’t slack off and don’t give up because it’s hard,” she said.

“If you study in the last minute you will probably fail the test or pop quiz,” she added.

McDonald’s advice for other incoming freshmen is to avoid peer pressure.

“Don’t hang out with the wrong crowd,” she said. “You could turn into a person that your parents wouldn’t want you to be.”

Contact Margo Hoffman:

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