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Fifth-graders getting linked up

Farragut Middle School has “linked up” with rising fifth-graders in an effort to ease the anxiety of transition to middle school with the roll-out of Link-up.

In an effort to ease the anxiety of a student’s transition into middle school, the Knox County Schools system initiated a mentoring program similar to the high school program Students Mentoring Another Class called Link-up.

Deborah Buchanan, a guidance counselor at Farragut Middle School and the 16 member FMS leadership board have assigned about 400 fifth-grade students to a mentor currently attending FMS.

The majority of the fifth-graders attend Farragut Intermediate School and A.L. Lotts Elementary School, but other schools were represented.

The 100-plus mentors were chosen by teacher recommendation and leadership qualities. Eighth-grade student Kinsley Sells is on the leadership board at FMS and said, “I was excited to participate in Link-up because my brother is in SMAC at the high school and he told me how much fun it is.”

The fifth-grade students completed a questionnaire and the leadership board matched them with a mentor, based on similar interests. Each mentor has three, four or five students. The Link-up took place over a three day period, Wednesday, May 5; Monday, May 10 and Thursday, May 13. The students were given information pertinent to an upcoming middle school student, as well as a tour of the school. The mentors will contact the students over the summer and will continue to connect with them throughout the next school year.

Amalia Beltran and Laura Royce, fifth- grade students at FIS had their Link-up on Thursday, May 13, with mentor sixth- grader Zachary Saunders.

Upon completion of their tour, Royce said, “This school is so big.”

Saunders added, “Within a week, I will know where everything is.”

FMS principal Richard Dalhaus spoke to the students in the cafeteria. He read excerpts from the Dr. Seuss book, “Hooray for Diffendoofer Day,” which details the story of a very unusual school, and a particularly odd teacher named Mrs. Bonkers.

Dalhaus said that he uses the book to add a little humor to this fearful time. He told the students that just as in the book, they will meet many different characters in middle school, but they need to relax and embrace the experience.

The FMS leadership board also conducted panel visits to the fifth-grade classrooms. They spoke of their experiences in middle school, answered questions and addressed specific fears.

Buchanan said that the mentors did an excellent job and that the Link-up process went very well.

“I think that mentoring is very important at the middle school level,” she added. “These students have so many fears about the first day of school, and if we can ease some of those fears, we have done our job.”


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