Middle school’s ‘Project Cooperation’ helps prepare incoming sixth-graders for new classes, teachers and responsibilities

group of kids playing with chalkIt’s getting closer for incoming sixth-graders to join the middle school as the Class of 2026! For most, it’s the first time they will be moving up to a new school.

To help ensure they’re ready, several hundred rising sixth-graders are attending the middle school’s Project Cooperation camp, an annual opportunity for them to see and be reminded about the importance of working cooperatively, building leadership skills and increasing their self-esteem as they begin to successfully navigate the new world of classes, teachers and responsibilities.

“This is a unique opportunity for Otisville and Minisink graduates to get to know one another,” said Jennifer Pagnanella, who coordinates the project with fellow middle school English teacher Nick Prezioso. “It goes a long way in easing the anxiety of starting the school year in a new building, with new peers and personnel.”

Middle School teachers and aides are also staffing the program with selected high school students helping out as peer leaders.

Skills to help in middle school and beyond

students with spaghetti and marshmellows“Project Cooperation gives our incoming sixth-graders that added sense of confidence for their first day and weeks of coming into a new school,” said Principal Michael Larsen.  “The variety of activities we do over a three-day period are designed to show them the importance of team work, helping others and how the spirit of cooperation will be tremendously important in their middle school careers, and in life.”

Plus, Mr. Larsen added, they’ll meet new friends, which is critical when transitioning to a new building.

boys crushing cookiesFerrah Hill, one of the huge group of students participating in Project Cooperation, said she was looking forward to new classes and having different teachers.

“The school is really helping us get a visual experience about what we’ll be doing in middle school,” she said. ‘It’s going to be really different than elementary school.”

Logan Rizzo also felt the staff is very nice and is helping them to find different places in the building.

“I know I’m going to have to have a lot more work to do,” he added.

Being new and fresh to academic and social opportunities 

Mr. Larsen hoped the new students are excited for what awaits them.

kids playing with hoola hoops“Everyone is starting out new and fresh to the middle school,” he said. “Our intent is to have them come home during those first weeks of school thrilled to tell you about what they are doing, the friends they have made and what awaits them academically and socially.”

And for Ferrah, what also awaits her is figuring out what her all-important first day of school outfit will be.

“I don’t have that picked out just yet, but soon enough I will,” she said. “However, I have a drawer in my dresser reserved for it.”

Visit the district’s Facebook page, Minisink Valley Central School District, to see more photos.