Soldotna Middle School Transitions Program


Need a compass? Eighteen incoming seventh graders took part in an innovative three day summer transitions program, Takin’ It To the Next Level. Soldotna Middle School principal Sarge Truesdell explains, “We want to ease the transition between 6th and 7th grade—studies have shown programs like this ease the hiccups for students.” 

In early August, young people arrived at Soldotna Middle School from K-Beach Elementary, Sterling Elementary, Tustumena Elementary, Redoubt Elementary, and Connections. Making new friends, learning locker combinations, class routes & school layout, tips for comfort zone, Google docs and Smart Board technology, they also had time for games, team building, and creative expression through locker decoration and a transitions collage.  

One young lady explained, “It’s so helpful to know the route from my locker, to home room, to music class.” When asked if she would help other new students, she replied “Yes—I’m so glad I know my way around—I can help other kids from my elementary school!” 


Participants offer these tips:

  • Don’t forget your homework 
  • Plan your route for your classes to save time 
  • Learn where your classes are 
  • Practice opening your locker 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help  
  • Leave cell phones in your locker and turned off 
  • Organize your locker 
  • Take a knee in gym class when the whistle blows three times 

In addition to being on campus for three days and learning to navigate their new daily schedule, everyone received a sweatshirt, and a backpack with helpful school supplies—folders, notebook, pens, a calculator and flash drive. One student requested a “magic pen that does your homework!” in the program evaluation. Although a magic homework pen isn’t part of the program, the incoming seventh graders will be well-prepared to begin school on August 23, and help their friends from elementary school navigate a new campus.  

A generous thank you extends to everyone who sponsored and participated in the transitions program, especially the two teachers Patrick Dwyer (Science) and Sheilah-Margaret Pothast (Spanish), and the commitment from Soldotna Middle School to help students become effective, successful learners—the best they can be.