Grissom Middle School eighth-grade student and Where Everybody Belongs, or WEB, club member Sophia Koltz, left, plays a straw challenge game with sixth-grade students Alijah Askar and Ryan Chen Aug. 27.

Grissom Middle School eighth-grade student and Where Everybody Belongs, or WEB, club member Sophia Koltz, left, plays a straw challenge game with sixth-grade students Alijah Askar and Ryan Chen Aug. 27.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Grissom orientation welcomes sixth graders to their new school

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published August 29, 2019

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STERLING HEIGHTS/WARREN — Middle school can be a tough transition for many students.

That’s why the staff at Grissom Middle School held an orientation Aug. 27 for the school’s incoming sixth-grade students. Grissom is part of Warren Consolidated Schools.

The school has a Where Everybody Belongs, or WEB, club, which is a middle school orientation and transition program designed to make new students comfortable as they adjust to the middle school experience. The program trains eighth-grade students as mentors to serve as WEB leaders.

The WEB leaders guide the new students during the school year. The Grissom WEB leaders spent last Tuesday with the sixth graders during their orientation. WEB staff advisers are Ken Dudek, Karen Zabonick, Tracey Halsig and Rawaa Yaldo.

“We want to make our sixth graders as comfortable as possible, not only on their first day, but throughout the year,” Grissom Principal Elizabeth Iljkoski said. She added that that it was not mandatory to attend the orientation, but it was “highly recommended.” Close to 90% of the sixth graders attended.

Students transitioning to middle school often can feel anxious coming from elementary school, where they had one teacher inside one classroom, to having several classrooms with various teachers.

“Lockers are the big thing,”  Iljkoski said. Some students are worried they won’t remember their locker combinations or won’t have time to go to their lockers between classes.

Early in the orientation, the sixth-grade students gathered in the gymnasium before they were broken down into smaller groups with their eighth-grade mentors. From there, the groups went into various classrooms for icebreakers.

At orientation, students also talked about bullying, how to make friends and making good choices. They also toured the school, found all their classrooms, received their photo IDs, visited the main office and the counseling office, and had lunch in the cafeteria.

Eighth graders Catherine Yokana and Maryam Yousif signed up to be WEB mentors this year.

“I want to help out. I love helping people,” said Yokana, who admitted that she had “the jitters” when she started sixth grade and wants to help put other students at ease.

“We’re just helping out the students,” Yousif added. “We’ll tell them what they need to know their first year of school.”

Yousif was nervous to attend Grissom in the beginning. One reason was because of the locker combination.

“I was afraid I would be late to class,” she said. However, she has had a positive experience at Grissom. “I love how everyone is really kind. They’re very helpful. I know I am going to be in a good place.”

Sixth graders Jaden Fransi and Olivia Gorgees both attended the orientation. Both have an older sibling at Grissom and are excited to start middle school.

“You get to make new friends,” Gorgees said.

“You get to meet people that you don’t know and become friends with them,” Fransi said.

There’s also some anxiety. “I’m nervous I won’t be able to open my locker.”

Both Fransi and Gorgees are glad for the WEB mentors.

“It’s really sweet and kind of them,” Gorgees said.

Iljkoski is new at Grissom this year and previously was an assistant principal at Sterling Heights High School. She replaces Joseph Konal, who retired at the end of last school year.

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