Freshman Transition Program


The leap from middle to high school can be confusing for many rising ninth graders and leave them anxious. A readiness program was made to counter this fear of high school and help new freshmen adapt to the new setting. During the last week of July 2015, the Rising Ninth Graders Transition to Annandale High School program was held. The program took place from July 27 to July 31 at Annandale High School. This is the second year that AHS is doing this program.

The students came in for a meeting in the cafeteria at 9 a.m. After they finished with the meeting they did all kinds of things including icebreakers, educational, emotional, group, drawing and athletic activities. They ate lunch together at 11 a.m. then went on tours of the building, all in preparation for high school. Their day finished at 1 p.m. and they went back home in anticipation for the next day.

To end the experience, the students were taken on a field trip on Friday, July 31. They visited the Virginia Commonwealth University and Richmond for a capital tour.

The program was provided through the 21st Century Grant, a Fairfax county grant. In collaboration with Poe and Holmes middle schools, they picked the students and put together a capable group of willing adults. The team included Robert Byrd, from Fort Hunt elementary school, Marcy Pronovost and Kristin Lillis, from the Annandale special education department, and the AHS resource teacher, Hassan Mims.

Mims, the lead teacher in the program, was very involved in the program this year and the last. He gave a lot of information on why and how the program was started.

The idea was inherited at Annandale from West Potomac High School and adapted to the conditions needed by the grant. AHS, along with Poe and Holmes middle schools, work a lot to ease the nerves felt by rising freshmen.

“The objective of the program was to give rising ninth graders who were identified [to] potentially struggle in our school a good fresh start about high school life and skills to be successful,” Mims said.

There is countless research, done by organizations like the Big Brother Big Sister organization, that mentions how students struggle gravely with transitions. Because of this, they plan to continue this program to help students and give them more opportunities for success.

Another goal of the program was to set up some adults in the school as trusted figures or even case managers for the students. This is to make the rising ninth graders feel more comfortable at Annandale.

It was noted that the students asked a lot of questions about things they were afraid of for this school year. This year’s program was described as a huge success. The rising students were able to relax and have fun while deterring their fears of high school.

“It’s good that they formed a good relationship with an adult in the building,” Mims said.

“The grant was renewed, so as long as Poe and Holmes middle schools are willing to partner with us we’re definitely looking forward to continuing the program,” Mims said. “Next year we’re looking to grow the program.”

Last year, approximately 60 students attended the program and 100 showed up this year. They wish to achieve a population of 125 students at the next Rising Ninth Graders to AHS program.