Fifth-graders get look at what lies in store

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 6, 2005

As five classes of fifth graders made their way across Jackson Street, past the School Board office and through the doors of Demopolis Middle School, few of them saw the journey for what it was – the beginning of another stage of their lives. The students attended an orientation at the middle school Thursday to get an idea of what life as a sixth grader will be like.

“I want to welcome the largest group to ever come to Demopolis Middle School,” Connie Brown, school counselor, said, following an introduction by middle school Principal Clarence Jackson and Assistant Principal Coach Chris Tangle.

Brown walked the students through registration, explaining that a yellow registration card would be given to them by their homeroom teacher. The card is to be filled out in full, signed by the student and their parent or guardian, and returned to their homeroom teacher.

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“If I do not get this card back, I cannot prepare your schedule,” Brown explained. She said if a student is planning to move and will not be attending the school next year, they need to write in big letters across the top of the form “moving” and they and their parent or guardian still need to sign the bottom of the form.

“That way I will know not to put you on the schedule,” she said.

“Also, if you are a twin and mom wants you to have the same classes for one more year, mark that too. That is the only allowance we make,” she said.

Brown explained that the students will be in class for 5 70-minute periods.

“You will have four subjects – language arts, math, history and science – that will be all year long. Then you will have one semester of P.E. and one semester of English Composition,” she said. Students will change classes and will be responsible for retrieving books and other materials needed from lockers.

“Be ready to take care of your business,” she warned the students. “The teachers here will not do your business for you. That means having everything you need for class, getting to class on time and making sure your homework is done.”

Brown explained that a student can opt to take band instead of P.E. and English Composition, but said if they sign up for band they must be able to provide their own instrument by the time school starts.

“So if you indicate on this registration card that you want to take band, you are indicating that your mom or dad or guardian is going to provide you with an instrument by the time school starts, we do not provide the instrument,” she said.

With all the firm advice out of the way, Brown had a few additional words to the students before letting them hear from a few of their soon-to-be peers.

“I also want you to be ready to make new friends – you will be changing classes five times a day and those classes will not be the same makeup of students. And I want you to get ready to get involved in fun things.”

Several current middle school students addressed the group on topics ranging from student leadership and Junior Beta Club to sports and other activities.

“Middle School is a great way to make new friends,” said Loria ????, Student Government Association (SGA) President. “It’s also a good time to start setting goals and start making plans.

“Oh, and let me tell you this, everybody needs to tuck in their shirts – this means girls too,” she said. “Boys, no sagging and no eyebrows, lips, noses or anything else pierced. You can have your ears pierced, but not the boys,” she warned.

Some students had already heard this warning from Dr. Tony Speegle, principal at U.S. Jones and other teachers at their current school.

“Mr. Jackson runs a tight ship over there,” said Jennifer Lay, ED teacher for the school system.

Sydney Hasty, president of the Junior Beta Club, talked of the importance of making good grades.

“Junior Beta is for anyone who makes all As all year long. You can make a B if its an advanced course,” she said. “She encouraged all the students to do their best, and noted that Beta Club members often participate in field trips and other special events.

The students also heard from several athletes, including girls and boys from the football, basketball and baseball teams.

“I’m on the A-B honor roll and I play volleyball, softball, basketball and I’m a member of the SGA,” said eighth-grader Melissa Sands. “My three years here have been wonderful and I hope yours will too.”

???? Shroeder spoke of various field trips middle school students have taken, including trips to the Huntsville Space and Flight Center, Gulfport, Miss., to the Marine Life and Oceanaquarium, Greene County Steam Plant and to Montgomery for a visit to the State Capitol and Museum of Fine Art.

“Huntsville was neat because it was an overnight trip and we got to learn about the astronauts and space stuff; Gulfport was cool because we got to stay outside most of the time and we were on the beach; Greene County Steam Plant was loud, but it was neat because we got to see how they turn it into energy; and Montgomery was interesting because we got to go to the Capitol and watch a congressional meeting going on and then we went to the Museum of Fine Arts where they have a lot of old paintings, some as old as 1871, but just a lot of old paintings,” Shroeder said.

Again, however, grades and good behavior came up.

“Behave and make good grades and maybe you can go on some trips,” she said.

After hearing so much about the school, the current fifth-graders were split up and taken on tours of the school, followed by a short recess with refreshments before heading back to the halls they will leave behind in just a few short weeks.