Helping the transition to middle school - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Helping the transition to middle school

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KENNEWICK, Wash--  From lockers, to classes with different teachers, to new faces, the thought of middle school can be daunting.  So how do we fix that?  Highlands Middle School in Kennewick thinks they might have the answer.

They say your first day through middle school doors can be frightening.  But Highlands Middle School is out to change that.

"The kids aren't worried about classes or subjects.   They want to know where's my locker? How do I open it? Where's the bathroom?  So today's about getting them comfortable," says vice principal Alyssa St. Hilaire.

And what better way to get comfortable then a few games.  A number of eighth graders, now the big kids on campus, helped welcome in the new guys.  They call themselves PAWS, or peers assisting with students.

"Yeah, it is [pretty neat]," says one incoming sixth grader.  "If you can't open your locker, a PAWS kid can help."

Locker training 101--sounds like a course just about all incoming sixth graders are dreading.  But here's the best advice of the day: those older kids, they were scared, too.

"I remember coming here, being excited and scared at the same time," says one eighth grader.

"I just remember not knowing anyone, I had to make new friends.   It was difficult," says another.

"I was pretty nervous.   Would I get to school on time? Will my teachers be nice? Would I get my locker open?  But it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be," adds a third.