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Where Everybody Belongs (or WEB) leaders show sixth-grade students around Beach Middle School.

(Publisher’s note: Because parents have not yet turned in permission slips that allow the media to publish student’s full names, I have only used first names for this story.)

Many of the new students in the 6th-grade class at Beach Middle School got a four-hour preview on Tuesday of what’s in store for them at their new school.

Dressed in bright blue T-shirts, 8th-grade mentors showed the ropes to small groups of 6th-graders. In all, 219 students (more than 90 percent of the 6th-grade class) spent Aug. 28 from 8 a.m.-noon, getting a feel for what middle school will be like.

The students are part of a program called WEB, which stands for “Where Everybody Belongs,” which got started a week before school begins. About 49 WEB leaders became mentors for the youngest students in the middle school, not just for the day, but for the whole school year.

“WEB is part of team-building in the school,” said Brian Boos, a teacher at Beach. “It’s a way to ease them into a new school.”

Teacher Brian Boos

The guides helped the new students find their lockers and the gym, the cafeteria and their homerooms. They played games, got to know each other, and were frequently reminded of the importance of making the right choices for their success both in school and in life.

Principal Nick Angel

Something similar called LINK, will take place later this week at the high school for incoming freshman.

“6th-graders can be anxious; it’s a new school,” said Sarah Bunten, a teacher at Beach. She said the 8th-grade WEB leaders guide and support the younger students.

They’ll eat together, and take part in activities together in school and outside of school, while learning strategies for success.

“Quinn,” a 6th-grader, said he really liked his WEB leaders, because the group got to toss a ball around while learning each others’ names.

“Kurt,” one of the WEB leaders, said, “I think we have a good group. There’s lots of energy, they’re pretty smart, and they work well together.”

In fact, the 49 WEB leaders spent two days this summer training for their new responsibilities as mentors for the youngest students in the school.

“They (the 6th-graders) are the little fish in a big pond,” Bunten said, and the WEB program helps them ease into a new school before the more than 600 students fill the hallways and classrooms.

Early enrollment figures for sixth grade are 214 pupils, seventh grade is 195 students and eighth grade is 205 youngsters for a total of 614 students at the school, according to a memo from Nick Angel, the school’s principal.

“Over 93 percent of the kids were involved today, and this program makes a larger community seem small,” Angel said.

An almost equal split of 8th-grade boys and girls went through a WEB selection process that began last year when they were in 7th grade. It included filling out forms, getting recommendations from school staff and training.

“Natasha” one of the WEB leaders, said she already knew a few of the 6th-graders and wanted to help them out.

“I’ll miss the people in the grade ahead of me,” she said, of last year’s 8th-grade class, “But I’ll get to meet new people.”

For more information about the WEB program, click here.

The Beach Middle School ‘WEB” leaders.


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