Orienting Students in Creative Ways

Back-to-school jitters are normal for many families during a regular school year, and it’s magnified even more when entering a new school community, or even a new division, during a global pandemic. Learning new routines and community norms, meeting new teachers and friends, and getting supplies and technology in order are all important aspects of a successful start of the school year, virtually or in person. MICDS recognizes this, and so even in these unusual times, faculty and staff rallied to create orientation experiences for the newest members of our Rams Family while also welcoming returning students in special ways.

New Lower School students and their parents and caregivers were welcomed to the Beasley community with a virtual orientation. Parents and students had the chance to connect with teachers via Zoom the day before the first day of school. Junior Kindergarten Teacher Bridget Wallace said, “It was great to connect with families and listen to their questions. Some of my favorite questions from the children included: ‘How do we eat lunch with our masks on,’ ‘Do teachers sleep at school,’ and ‘Will we get to play?’ We were happy to calm their nerves about eating lunch (without masks), to inform them that teachers do go home at the end of the day (although some days are longer than others), and to share that play-based learning is still very possible in JK (although it may look a bit different than normal)!”

The Middle School Bridge program welcomed over 100 new students to campus in early August. Middle School faculty and staff helped students find their way with campus tours, including special directions and instructions for social distancing. Students learned about each other with icebreaker games such as “Would you Rather…” They reviewed their summer work, set up their laptops, and learned some Zoom basics for distance learning. They also learned about the Middle School motto “LEAD” – Learn with curiosity and joy, Embrace challenge, Advocate for self and community, and Demonstrate collaboration and teamwork. Students created videos and skits demonstrating the LEAD qualities.

All Middle School students were welcomed at a festive “Meet MS at the MAC” drive-through car parade the day before the first day of school. Students were able to see their teachers in person before teachers became mainly visible via a Zoom screen. Teachers held posters introducing themselves, wore spirit wear, and waved happily at the students. Students’ cars were decorated with red and green galore and also signs that shared their names and introductory information.

At Launch Days, Middle and Upper School students gathered books and supplies, picked up their laptops, and took their school photos, all while practicing social distancing and wearing masks.

The Upper School also held two events – Bridge for new-to-MICDS students and Upper School Orientation for new-to-Upper-School students. Students toured campus and social distancing routes, met their advisors, watched video remarks from school leadership, learned about their fellow students with icebreaker games, Zoomed with their college counselor, and generally learned how to “do” Upper School successfully in the current environment. Head of Upper School Scott Small shared, “It was so great to see happy faces—well, happy eyes—on campus again. One highlight for me was seeing students meeting their advisors in person.” For Bridge, Upper School students are highly involved in the program as Bridge mentors.

Thank you to all faculty and staff members who put in long hours of preparation to pull off these unique orientation and welcome events before the start of the school year!