For the fourth year, Beattie Middle School prepared for the first day of school with a special day of welcoming for the sixth-graders transitioning from elementary school through the Where Everybody Belongs (WEB) student-mentoring program.

On Tuesday, Aug. 7, the day before first day of the school year, seventh- and eighth-graders selected through the school’s WEB and ASB programs welcomed more than 300 incoming sixth graders for a day of mentoring, school tours and fun.

“The goal of WEB is to welcome and enfold sixth-graders coming to our school,” said English teacher and WEB organizer Dale Whitehurst. “Research shows when kids feel comfortable at school they learn better and achieve more academically and socially.”

To help them grow more comfortable at Beattie they were given a day to learn the campus before the older grades arrived and were each assigned two WEB mentors .

According to Whitehurst, since the school has been using WEB, modeled after a similarly successful program for freshmen entering high school, disciplinary referrals have dropped.

Teachers also report that they now get to transition from orientation instruction to academic instruction sooner, Whitehurst said.

Eighth grader Hailey Magle says she applied to become a WEB mentor because she wanted to have a positive impact on the school and her fellow students. She and the other mentors spent a week training for their responsibilities and preparing for Tuesday’s welcoming.

The high-energy event began with arriving sixth-graders walking a gantlet of high-fives and smiles.

McKenna Williams, now an eighth-grade mentor, says the WEB program really helped her when she was a sixth-grader.

“I felt more comfortable knowing where everything was and it didn’t seem big and frightening,” Williams said.

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