Prepping Panthers for the future

Students gain focus and skills needed for the next steps

Jemtegaard Middle School students helped prepare for their eighth-grade year, with a full day of activities before classes ended for the summer.

“Panther Prep,” helped seventh-graders with the focus and skills needed to take the next steps toward high school graduation.

“We want our students to head into summer feeling positive about themselves,” said Wendy Butler, student assistance counselor. “We want them to have the understanding that we at Jemtegaard work hard to support each other.”

The activities included information shared on how to stay safe over the summer with CPR training, marijuana prevention and a motivational guest speaker, Tenielle Shanae.

She discussed perceptions of how high school students should act and addressed the role that social media and other factors had in influencing decisions about how teens should act.

Rounding out the day were team building and problem solving activities that helped students understand the importance of supporting each other to be successful.

The “If you really knew me” activity had students adopt the role of kids who have hurdles that may impact their ability to graduate from high school. The goal was to build empathy, and to develop a sense of family so that all can succeed.

“Role playing allowed us to understand the challenges that many students face and perhaps recognize some challenge that are their own so they know they are not alone,” Butler said. “This was done to help build up what is positive in students’ lives and teach resilience.”

“It is about resiliency,” added Lori Higgs, school counselor. “There are hard things that happen in life. And we want the students to understand the resources available to handle them. And these resources include each other. Human resources. We are all here to offer support and encouragement to each other.”

One of the exercises was led by JMS parents Traci and Tom Stinchfield. Students were asked to work as a team to get a variety of heavy objects, and each other, from one point to another using the objects as stepping stones and not letting their feet hit the ground.

“We hope they come away with some problem-solving skills and team-work strategies,” Traci said. “You watch them work through the process, and you actually see how they begin to depend on each other and work as a team to successfully complete the challenge.”

“Our goal of the whole day was to start getting our future eighth-graders ready and to start preparing them for high school and ultimately graduation,” said David Cooke, JMS principal.