WEB leaders ready to welcome middle school students

August 25, 2017

The first day of school can be intimidating, especially for middle schoolers.

“Thinking back, I was extremely scared when I came to Oak-Land,” remembers eighth grader Trent Tillett.

That’s why Tillett and about 120 other eighth graders became part of the district’s Where Everyone Belongs (WEB) program. WEB, which is funded by the Partnership Plan, is designed to ease students’ transition from elementary to middle school in a fun and supportive way. With grade configuration changes this year, Stillwater Area Public Schools will be welcoming two classes of students (grades 6 and 7) to Oak-Land and Stillwater middle schools. 

“I want to make sixth graders feel more comfortable with the school and their peers,” said Oak-Land eighth grader Stephanie Helgeson. “I want them to be less worried about getting their lockers opened and help them take part in things like games and stuff with their friends.”

On the first day of school, two WEB leaders will be teamed up with a small group of 10 sixth and seventh graders to help them discover what it takes to be successful in school. The WEB leaders will also gather with their team during weekly advisory and throughout the year for social activities, study groups and to discuss any problems that may arise.

Organizers say they looked for a wide variety of students to serve as leaders. They purposely chose students who aren’t your typical leaders - students, athletes, musicians - that are always leading in everything they do.

“When the new kids walk into the gym they need to see themselves in one of the WEB leaders,” said Stillwater Middle School teacher Chris Getchell.

Oak-Land Middle School counselor Heather Goetz says the program is a win-win for everyone involved.

“I'm excited about welcoming sixth graders to Oak-Land and helping them get connected with our school community from the very first moment,” said Goets. “But I'm almost more excited for our eighth grade WEB leaders, and the skills they'll be developing as leaders for the entire school year. These are students I normally don't see in my office, and it has been such a joy to watch them as they've grown and matured.”

A similar program, called Link Crew, will be implemented at the high school for incoming freshman and sophomores.