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Survival tactics

Fifth-graders across the district come together for a day of camaraderie as they prepare for middle school

Bethlehem fifth-graders took part in team-building exercises like the "trolley," in which they walked on wooden planks and learned to tie-dye T-shirts at the annual Survivor Day at Elm Avenue Park on Friday, June 1.

Bethlehem fifth-graders took part in team-building exercises like the "trolley," in which they walked on wooden planks and learned to tie-dye T-shirts at the annual Survivor Day at Elm Avenue Park on Friday, June 1. Photo by Marcy Velte.

Most of the activities needed to be completed through teamwork. There was a relay obstacle course, group academic questions about math, social studies and geography, and trolley races, where students stepped in unison to cross the finish line on wooden planks.

As a crafts project focusing on American culture, students also learned how to tie-dye their own shirts. Berschwinger said the shirts were meant to be a keepsake from the day and a reminder of a time when they were unified as a class, perhaps to prevent future squabbles or bullying.

“It’s something that the kids look forward to,” he said. “I know my fourth-graders look at it as a big day.”

Students also had time to meet with some of their future teachers, the middle school principal, and Superintendent Tom Douglas dropped by in the morning to introduce himself.

“It’s a good way for these kids who feel skittish about going into the middle school to really just get a foot in the door and maybe have a bit better idea for what’s about to happen,” said Berschwinger. “I’ve been working here for 12 years, and there are a lot of fifth-graders who are scared about going to the middle school because it’s seen as such a big thing, so if this helps them we’ve done our job”

Brian Murray, a student from Slingerlands Elementary, said he liked that Survivor Day introduced his to some new people who he could see being friends with in the future. However, he said he’s not nervous because his older brother is already in the middle school.

“The only thing I think I would be worried about is finding my classes,” he said. “Besides that, I’m fine. No one here’s been mean or anything. I’m not really a negative person. I try to be optimistic because I don’t think it helps to be negative.”

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