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Preparing for the leap: HCS offers summer camp for transitioning students

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Students have questions about move to next school

By Kelly Cantrall

A new summer camp in Hardin County intends to ease the sometimes scary transition for new middle and high schoolers.

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Hardin County Schools hosts the Junior Leadership Corps Summer Program this week and next at Radcliff Elementary School. It gives students in northern Hardin County two weeks to prepare for transitions from elementary to middle school or middle to high school.

Family resource centers at the schools identified students considered at risk, academically or behaviorally, as they move on to a new grade. Older students in the JLC program, which develops academic, social, physical and leadership skills of middle school students, also participated, along with JROTC students at North Hardin High School.

Along with these students, siblings of participants also were invited, giving the camp a mix of ages and abilities.

For two weeks, students are taking classes on topics such as peer pressure, anger management and social skills, participating in physical fitness activities and hearing presentations from community organizations.

Teams are formed and led by a JROTC member and a couple of JLC members. This mixes ages and ensures students who otherwise might not mingle will do so, said Rudy Garcia, HCS student support specialist.

Garcia said he has seen a lot of issues when students move from the confines of elementary school to the bigger environment of middle school, and then on to an even larger high school.

Emina Hatler, an incoming senior at North Hardin High School and JROTC battalion commander, is assisting with the camp. Her younger brother is attending, and she sees the camp helping him meet other students. She thinks it can have an impact on others, too.

“I see it working for other kids as well,” she said.

Students admitted they have fears about entering new schools. Keoun Pittman, 11, an incoming sixth-grader at North Middle School, said he worries about many issues — from being bullied to forgetting his locker combination.

Noah Thomas, 9, an incoming fifth-grader, said he worries about falling behind academically and social aspects of school.

“I’m afraid of making new friends,” he said.

Theaira Thurston, 11, an incoming sixth-grader,  found the peer pressure class to be helpful. She liked its message of walking away from negative people.

“I just want to be successful when I grow up, go to college, get an education,” she said.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.