Making An Easier Transition From Junior High To High School

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The cacophony in the Payson High School gym was deafening as more than 200 freshmen told momentary partners his or her life story in one minute and four seconds.

Those 64 seconds were part of the bonding experiences devised to make the transition between junior high and high school a success.

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Link crew nine managed to have three balls in the air at once, tossing the balls to students by number rather than name. "You guys were awesome!" link leader Jessie Carpino told her crew.

"We want them to start getting comfortable interacting with each other and feel like they belong to PHS," said PHS coach Aaron Gray.

Gray, along with teachers Devon Wells and Brian Young, PHS Counselor Judy Michel and Parent Community Liaison Christy Walton coordinated the event.

There were 44 link leaders comprised of junior and senior students who were chosen from names provided by PHS teachers last year because the teens were leaders -- not in the traditional sense of student government, but leaders within their peer groups.

Orientation activities began and ended in the gym last Tuesday, with a long breakout session in between where groups of about a dozen students got to know each other through sharing stories and playing games.

"I'm here because I remember it was scary to be a freshman and I'm a people person," Jessie Carpino, co-link leader with junior Katie Dyer, told the 10 freshmen in her group.

"Hot Handle" was one of the first games they played. Each person had to tell his or her name and say something about it.

All Jordan Ashby's aunt's names began with a "J." Tyler Alexander said he was named after his grandfather. Andrew Howell received his dad's middle name as his first.

The crew chronicled part of their life stories by first drawing or writing it on a paper folded into six boxes -- favorite toy, what concert would you like to attend and who would you take, special memory, adult you respect beyond your parents, future career and an activity you want to try.

The answers were diverse.

The teens treasured Easy Bake Ovens, Legos and bicycles. They wanted to skydive, fish for swordfish, bungee jump, and base jump. Three of the crew thought they might want to be video game designers, parole officers or doctors.

They held relatives, coaches and pastors as influences in their lives.

The breakout session games ended with role play.

"Get into an imaginary mold," Carpino told them. "Pretend we've been on a hike and the school bus is leaving in 15 minutes. There's no time to get back the way we came so we have to cross the rocks in an icy pond (created by 64 squares on the floor) to get back to the busses."

The catch?

There are turtles and the turtle backs look just like rocks.

And you have to walk back the way you came or it adds a minute to your time.

There is only one correct path.

"Try your hardest because the decisions you make now, do matter," Katie Dyer told freshmen.

Crew number nine seemed to take her words to heart.

When the link crew captains played the game, the record was 8.5 minutes. Crew nine crossed the pond in seven.

To reach Carol La Valley call 474-5251 ext. 122 or e-mail clavalley@payson.com.

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