Education

Incoming Sixth-Graders and Spotswood High School Freshmen Get Oriented

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The new Memorial Middle School principal, Brian Kitchin addresses parents at the Meet the Principal event on August 24. Credits: Dawn Miller
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SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Facebook and Instagram feeds were full of moms posting pictures of their soon-to-be Memorial Middle School sixth-graders as the 11-year-olds attending their new school orientation on Thursday. Navigating the locker situation was the prime goal of the morning for many as they struggled to open their assigned lockers in preparation for the first day of school.

Moms and dads stood nearby at the conclusion of the orientation with bags of school supplies, helping their kids get prepared for that all-important first day of school in two weeks. Many Memorial teachers such as Erin Glassen, Michael Francis, Kristen Carpenter and Robert Tagliente were also on hand to help get the sixth-graders acquainted with their new surroundings. Newly appointed principal Brian Kitchin and guidance counselor Jessica Silva were there as well to ease the anxiety as the kids got a peek at their new school and teachers.

The sixth-graders received tours from members of the National Junior Honor Society and an extensive locker lesson before trying their hand at opening their new locker themselves.

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Over at Spotswood High School, the class of 2021 was having a similar experience, but in more detail as the freshmen received schedules,tours, and talks about what life like a Charger is going to be for the next four years.

On Snapchat, the upperclassmen were busy sharing schedules to see which friends shared lunch, gym and other classes together. Out on the athletic field, fall sports practices were in full swing as the boys and girls soccer, girls tennis, cross country, football and cheerleading teams readied for the September start of their season. Members of the Pep Band will be tuning up their instruments on Monday, August 28 as Spotswood High School Band Director Sarah Carino-Koza begins rehearsals. The Pep Band performs in the stands at SHS football games.

In the evening, Kitchin and Silva held a meet and greet for Memorial parents to ease the adult anxiety about another change in administration at the sixth through eighth grade school. The school has seen its share of administrators in recent years. Both addressed parents' concerns and were available to chat and answer questions afterward. The Spotswood PTA provided refreshments for the event that attracted around 50 parents.

Newly appointed superintendent, Graham Peabody spoke to the audience, introducing Kitchin. Peabody served as the school's acting principal last year in addition to being the district's assistant superintendent.

"We want the school to facilitate the learning process for your kids," Kitchin said in his opening remarks. "It's important to us that we teach them how to use the different tools available to them to take ownership over their own learning process. It's something that really sets kids up for the future because it makes them lifelong learners."

"Middle school is an important time in the life of our kids," Kitchin continued. "We are the bridge between elementary and high school. There's a big difference between an elementary and a high school student and it's our job to help them navigate that path from one to the other."

"I'm very, very excited to be the school counselor here at the Memorial Middle School," Silva said when it was her turn to speak.

The counselor quipped that she'd hoped that becoming a middle school counselor instead of a high school one would mean that she would finally be taller then the students. She added with a smile that after meeting some of the sixth graders in the morning she saw that was not going to be the case.

"My main goal is to be an advocate for your children," Silva stressed during her time at the podium.

Many Spotswood teachers are in the process of setting up their classrooms for the 2018-18 school year. They officially return to work on Tuesday, September 5 for two days of in-service before students return to school on Thursday, September 7.

Middle and high school student schedules are currently available on Genesis. Appleby and Schoenly teacher assignments are set to be available on Genesis on Friday, August 25.

Parents having difficulty with the Genesis portal should email pahelp@spsd.us.

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