Sixth Grade Builds Community by Celebrating Individuality

The start of a new school year can be challenging. With new teachers, classmates, schedules, and unfamiliar material to learn, it can sometimes be difficult for students to devote time to fostering a space for their personalities within a new environment. In an effort to promote a strong community and class identity, the sixth grade spent the first two days of the school year in orientation, taking time to get to know one another. “The whole sixth grade participated in teamwork and collaboration games that focused on strong communication skills,” said Kelly Walsh, Middle School English Teacher.

In their advisories, the sixth graders played small, get-to-know-you games. Advisories put together a big puzzle consisting of pieces designed by each student that included their favorite things about themselves. The giant puzzle pieces were then put together and hung in each advisory room “so that students can see how their individual strengths and interests combine to create an advisory family,” said Walsh. Mark Duval, Sixth-Grade Dean and History Teacher, emphasizes the importance of making these connections early in the school year. “Initially, it’s important that students feel more at ease and comfortable with their advisor and small advisory group. Overall, students become more relaxed and at ease for the official start of classes on Thursday,” he said.  

In addition to familiarizing themselves with their advisories, students painted small wooden fish, creating designs that represent themselves artistically. When finished, each student hung their fish in “The Sea of Fish” mural in the sixth-grade hallway that stays up all year. 

Building a strong foundation early in the year encourages students to grow. “The activities help students learn about each other with hopes that new friendships will emerge,” said Walsh. “We also hope that students just have fun and feel supported by their teachers,” said Duvall.

Here’s to a great beginning, Rams!