BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A new program to bring freshmen along a little more informally seemed to be a hit with students Wednesday morning at Fort Madison High School.
Principal Greg Smith said he’s heard nothing but good things from the incoming class of Bloodhounds, who as part of the half-day of activities, formed an “FM” on the Jim Youel Field.
“I asked them earlier how many felt better doing it this way without all the other kids coming in, and almost everyone raised their hands, so it’s been good,” Smith said.
He said he’s been wanting to introduce the freshmen to high school in this manner for a couple of years.
“I spoke with the previous superintendent about it and he wasn’t as keen on it as I was. But I asked the new superintendent (Erin Slater) and she just said, ‘Let’s do it’.”
“This time I said we have to to get this on the calendar. The fourth graders are doing it over at the middle school, too, as a transition into that school as well.”
The 1/2 day was a morning of getting acclimated with the school layout and getting to know some of the staff. At about 10:30 the kids all headed out to the football field for a group shot lined up as the FM logo on the field and then a social lunch was provided where staff intermingled with the students in the multi-purpose room.
“From the time they walked in, I thought this is not what freshmen look like coming into high school,” he said. “They’re confident, giggling and joking around having fun. And I asked them earlier how many thought they felt better without all the other kids coming in and almost everyone raised their hands.”
He said he got the idea from a friend in Cedar Rapids who works for elementary school program that implements the same program.
“We were having dinner and we talked about freshmen really needing to be involved in this so we did that.”
“I’ve got teachers going around, and associates and kids intermingled, and the buses come about 11:30 and they are out of here.”