There is an old saying, “it takes a town to raise a child.” Here in Town, at the Dedham Middle School, “it takes a team to build … well, a team.”
Each year across the country, children begin classes at a new school. The mix of a new building, unfamiliar routines, new teachers and classmates, always causes a bit of anxiety. In Dedham, we are fortunate to have four Elementary Schools – Oakdale, Greenlodge, Riverdale and Avery. Each year, the graduating 5th grade classes of these schools “come together” and become the 6th grade class at the Dedham Middle School. Instinctively come September, each group of boys and girls feels more comfortable with their old friends.
For the past few years, it has been the job of Principal Debra Gately and Vice Principal Dr. Margo Fraczek to have this group “bond” and become one. During the first full week of school, the 6th grade class is divided in to two “teams” – Dexter and Fairbanks. Each team contains a mix of students from all of the Elementary Schools.
The DMS teachers certainly do their part, to help these 200 plus boys and girls join together. There are team projects, sharing reports, different people in different classes and new friends at the lunch table. However, when you`re 10 or 11 years old, “new” sometimes doesn`t come “easy.”
Therefore, each year the Dedham Middle School sponsors a grade 6 Team Building Day aptly called “When Four Become One.” An entire day is devoted to getting this group together to begin their journey. In the morning, each child receives a DMS t-shirt and there is a meeting in the auditorium. Small groups are set up and sent to “stations” around the school. There, they take turns sharing their thoughts and experiences, playing games and “getting to know” one another. Lunch is served and another round of events follows.
By day`s end, smiles were plentiful and everyone agreed, more had been accomplished uniting these children than a month`s worth of normal school days.
Story and Photo by Joe Kilroy