Middle school girls invited to PASSAGES


Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 3:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 3:23 p.m.

For Daphne Colson, PASSAGES provided the tools she needed to take the scariness out of middle school.

Facts

PASSAGES WORKSHOP

What: The sixth annual PASSAGES workshop for Alachua County girls entering middle school for the first time.

When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. July 31-Aug. 1 and Aug. 5-6.

Where: Howard Bishop Middle School, 1901 NE Ninth St.; Lincoln Middle School, 1001 SE 12th St.

Cost: $40; scholarships are available.

Information: Call 352-376-3004 or visit www.girlscouts-gateway.org.

"I was nervous about changing for PE and getting to classes on time and being able to find my classes," said Daphne, who attended PASSAGES as a rising sixth-grader at Howard Bishop Middle School. She is now a rising ninth-grader headed to Gainesville High School this fall.

Offered by the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council, PASSAGES workshops provide girls with the tools needed to succeed academically and socially in middle school.

"PASSAGES took the scariness out of the new experience of going to middle school," said Daphne, who will be sharing her middle school experiences with the girls attending the upcoming workshop at Howard Bishop Middle School. It will be held from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. July 31-Aug. 1 at the school at 1901 NE Ninth St. The deadline to register is 11:59 p.m. Monday.

A workshop also will be held at Lincoln Middle School from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Aug. 5-6 at the school at 1001 SE 12th St. The deadline to register is 11:59 p.m. Aug. 2. Space is limited, so register as soon as possible by calling 352-376-3004 or 877-764-5237.

The cost is $40, and includes all program materials and daily snacks, but students must bring their own lunch and a water bottle. Financial assistance, including scholarships, is available to all eligible girls by calling 352-376-3004.

"We're preparing the girls for three years of middle school," said Lynda Schladant, membership specialist at Girl Scouts of Gateway Council. The girls will learn to navigate the hallways, dress out for physical education, change classes, manage lockers, deal with bullies and peer pressure and make new friends. They also will receive organizational skills, note-taking and study tips, and other skills to successfully navigate middle school.

Nancy White, director of communications at Girl Scouts of Gateway Council, said the council developed PASSAGES in response to studies that indicated rising sixth-grade girls transitioned differently than boys and were concerned about attending a new school, changing classes, managing their lockers, peer pressure, boys and other concerns.

White said PASSAGES gives girls the self-confidence they need to succeed academically and socially in their new school environment.

"They will start the new school year with friends and they will know where they need to go," said White. "The first-day jitters will be gone."

Schladant said the workshops are driven by the girls and are interactive with a lot of role-playing.

Each PASSAGES workshop will have a facilitator, who is a member of the school staff and a role model. On the first day of the workshop, the girls will do activities that bring out their anxieties and concerns, and then, the curriculum is adjusted to meet their needs.

She said parents worry about threats from outside the school, but the girls worry about how they're going to manage six teachers, how to get to class on time, changing for PE and how to handle the attention of the older boys.

"We talk about healthy relationships, setting boundaries and how to say NO," Schladant said. "We talk a lot about how to succeed academically, time management, and long-range planning."

"Bullying is their biggest concern," Schladant said. "We're focusing on social issues, like bullying and social media. We're finding there is a real need."

Daphne recommends PASSAGES.

"We played games and it was interactive and not like a lecture," Daphne said. "It was time well spent and well worth it to learn about middle school."

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