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Summer program easing remote students back to school

Middle School Transition Program co-coordinator Irene Sweigart. (AMY PORTER/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

WESTFIELD — Westfield Middle School is holding a summer transition program for all students, especially for students who were fully remote last year and for those transitioning from grade 6 to grade 7 who are new to the school.

Program co-coordinator Irene Sweigart said that during registration, parents and students gave a variety of reasons for their interest in the program, and they opened the doors to any student who needs support returning to in-person school this fall.

Other WMS staff involved in the program include co-coordinator Jackie Osowski, Matthew Preye, Peyton O’Brien and Alison Kelly, all WMS teachers with a background working with and supporting students that may be struggling with school.

The first week of the program (Aug. 2-6) is designed as a week-long program for students to attend daily, either morning or afternoon for three hours. Students are given tours of the building and get a chance to meet the staff and other students, participate in academic, social-emotional, and social activities, and reintegrate back into the school routine. Breakfast and lunch are also offered.

“The transition program gets kids back into the swing of things,” said Preye.

WMS teacher Matthew Preye plays a giant game of Jenga with students Logan Byrne, Keishnalee Neal, Sianna Sgroi and Gabby Pichardo. (AMY PORTER/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

At the start of one of the afternoon sessions, Preye set up a giant Jenga game outside with students Logan Byrne, Keishnalee Neal, Sianna Sgroi and Gabby Pichardo. While they were playing and attempting to beat the 15-story tower that the morning group had achieved, Preye said during the regular school year he used the game in his environmental science class to show how every action people take can have an impact on the environment. The group did reach 16 stories before the blocks fell.

The second week of the transition program will be Step Up Day Plus, designed as more of a step-up day program. Students will have 3 hours to tour the building, see a mock schedule, meet staff, and get a general feel for WMS and all that WMS has to offer, according to Sweigart.

“It encompasses much of the first week, but in a condensed manner to accommodate a larger number of students throughout the week,” she said.

Both programs are intended to help students ease back into the routine and procedures of school at a slower, more comfortable pace, with an emphasis on individualized comfort levels.

“Staff members will focus lessons on topics and difficulties that students may face during the first few weeks of school to better prepare them and help ease their transition back,” Sweigart said.

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