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Hall lockers biggest concerns for incoming seventh graders

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MASSENA - Lockers.

That was the buzz word among incoming seventh graders who were taking part in an open house Wednesday at J.W. Leary Junior High School.

They had maps of the school in hand to navigate through the halls, but cracking the lockers on their hall lockers seemed to be the number one concern for many of the students.

Rather than wandering the halls, many of them opted to spend time at their assigned lockers practicing their combinations again and again so they would have them down pat by the time the doors opened for the first day of school on Sept. 6.

Tyler Converse was visiting the school for the second day of the two-day open house, once again standing at his locker to tackle the toughest issue he and other students said they’d face on day one.

“Getting my locker open,” he said, something he hadn’t experienced during his time at Madison Elementary School.

Sierra Gladding, who was also coming from Madison Elementary School, likewise spent a good part of her visit at her hall locker, dialing the combination on her lock.

The layout of the new building wasn’t big on her list of concerns, she said.

“Not a lot,” she said, noting they had also changed classes at her old school. “We just went from class to class.”

Principal Jesse Coburn said the incoming seventh graders were invited in for two days to learn “the lay of the land” at the junior high. Some students came for day one, others came for day two and a number of students came both days, some with their backpacks filled with items they were ready to put in their locker in anticipation of the first day of school.

“Yesterday was a very busy day,” Mr. Coburn said.

It wasn’t the first time the former sixth graders had been invited to J.W. Leary for an orientation, he said.

“In the spring every building brings their elementary sixth graders here. We meet in the cafeteria, and they take a tour with the teachers and students,” he said.

This time around, the students were in their own, able to walk around the building at their leisure to find their rooms and spend as much time as necessary unraveling the mystery of their locks.

Classrooms were for the most part located on one end of the building, he said, with the gym and cafeteria the only two rooms they would visit regularly on the other end of the building.

Guidance counselors were also on hand both days to help students with schedule issues, and some eighth-grade students had volunteered their time to help the incoming students learn about the school.

“We have maps if they want to do self-guided tours,” Mr. Coburn said. “It helps reduce the anxiety.”

The students will also find plenty of help when they arrive for the first day of school, according to the principal.

“Every year we flood the hall with teachers,” he said.

Based on past experience, Mr. Coburn said the biggest concerns on day one are, “Will I be able to open my locker? Will I know anyone in my homeroom? What happens if I’m late to class because I can’t get my locker open?”

But those anxieties won’t last long, he predicted.

“From week one to week two, the anxieties diminish,” he said. “A week into school their locker is second nature.”

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