I am a Reading/Writing Specialist in the capitol city of Concord, NH. We are the only middle school in the city. We have many new students each year who either come from different towns or different countries. Our students have high economic need and all want a sense of belonging. Middle school is a time of transition and inherently scary, but being new kid can be even more stressful. When new students come into our school, our students thought it would be supportive if they developed "Welcome Bags:" cinch sacks (which can be used for gym) that are filled with a school t-shirt, school supplies, a map of the school, and coupons for our snack shack. We have arranged for student mentors to give tours to new kids and organize lunch bunches so they can get to know our new kids.
The kids in our school community are learning to practice empathy when new kids come to our school. Many have been "the new kid" and understand how disorienting and frightening it can be, especially as an adolescent. They want to make the transitional experience warm and reassuring to new students, letting them know they are welcome and they belong. Current RMS students have banded together to offer tours, be lunch buddies, and provide ongoing mentorship.
New students will receive this gift and be ready to learn, without the worry of not having what they need for their classes.
In Their Own Words
Students learn best when they feel valued, welcomed, and have a sense of belonging. The RMS students have submitted hand-written welcome letters to put into each one of the bags we'd like to give newcomers. We chose RMS shirts and RMS cinch sacks to give to each student so that on Fridays when we all wear spiritwear, they are included. All students belong. All students empathize. All students contribute. All students make a difference.
BC: We will help pack the bags with materials inside to give to the new kids. We are helping by writing the kids' part of the grant for the materials and figuring out what they are. We are also delivering them to the new kids. This is important to our school community because the new kids will have a friend so that they don't feel left out.
JM: I would help by giving out the bags that have supplies for the kids like pencil and markers. I would help pack up the bags for the kids. It is important to me because I had some stuff to help me. I also felt really safe. That is why I think that the bags will be very helpful. Some kids might not even have money to buy things. I would also help make the map, that way when the kids come they won’t get lost in the school. It is very big.
IU: I hope that every student that needs help to get supplies for school will get them. The students that don't need help to get supplies will get some, too. It will make the kids less scared to come to school here. Being more confident and less scared to come to school here is a good thing. We are showing them support and happiness and that you can do what you want if you put your mind to it. We aren't saying it with our voices but we are saying it by doing an act of kindness.
EL: I hope new kids feel welcome and do well in their new classes because they got one of these bags.
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