London high school hosts community-building weekend for incoming Grade 9 students | Edvance Christian Schools Association
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London high school hosts community-building weekend for incoming Grade 9 students

Written on July 3rd, 2009

[caption id=”attachment_2721” align=”aligncenter” width=”300”]riscc weekendFS Lauren Pasma (left) and Kristen Linker, members of the LDCSS student connections team, managing registrations for the RISCC weekend.[/caption]

Senior high students co-ordinate, run successful overnight event 

Surviving on only about an hour of sleep the night before, Nola spent a Saturday morning this past spring mixing up pancake batter for a group of about 55 Grade 8 students.

“It was so much fun, even though I was exhausted,” says the London Christian Secondary School (LDCSS) senior student.

The pancake breakfast was part of a weekend event organized for Grade 8 students registered to attend LDCSS next year.

The objective in running the event was to start building community with the incoming Grade 9 class and help make their transition into the high school as seamless as possible.

About nine Christian elementary schools feed into LDCSS, with just as many geographic areas represented, so most Grade 9 students have all new people to meet on their first day at LDCSS.

Providing an opportunity for them to connect with one another as well as a number of senior students beforehand will hopefully translate to less anxiety on the first day of Grade 9, says Kerry Wilson, LDCSS director of advancement and curriculum.

“One of our goals is to have them, even before summer comes, start feeling like they are part of the London Christian high community,” she says, noting that senior students have shared that their greatest fear coming into Grade 9 is mixing with the older students.

Hope, a Grade 8 student at Immanuel Christian School in Aylmer, is one of those registered for Grade 9.

She says the chance to meet future fellow classmates has reduced her anxiety and increased her excitement about the coming school year.

“I think if you meet the kids ahead of time and start to build bonds now, it will be a lot easier when you get to Grade 9,” she says, adding she particularly enjoyed getting to meet the LDCSS senior students.

The event, which included an overnight stay at the school, is called RISCC, which stands for Really Intense Student Connections in Christ.

A group of about 10 LDCSS senior students, including Nola, organized and ran the activities, with support from Wilson and other staff. In addition to the pancake breakfast on Saturday morning, the senior students hosted seminars on adjusting to high school and dealing with peer pressure. The Friday evening before was spent playing team-building games and watching movies.

Nola says the weekend went off much better than expected and the team was thrilled when they heard back from one of the Grade 8 teachers.

“I loved it when we got an e-mail from one of the teachers saying the kids have been talking about (the RISCC event) all week and they’re saying the worst part is that Grade 9 is three months away.”

Plans are underway to run the event again next year.

Having senior students do most of the connecting and community building is important, Wilson says.

This not only increases the engagement of the younger students but also helps the senior students take more ownership of their school community.

“It’s opened the eyes (of the senior students) to the role they play in either embracing our new students or ostracizing them,” says Wilson. “(We wanted) to get the student body to realize that they’re involved in creating the community as well.”

In addition to the RISCC event, the student connections team has co-ordinated several other activities geared to recruiting elementary students. This past school year they hosted assemblies in several area Christian schools.

The team has been patterned after a similar approach that Hamilton Christian High is taking.

Principal Kooy says what’s most thrilling about the student connections team is the “excitement and passion of the team members for what they’re doing and how they’re taking ownership for what they’re doing.”

Nola says the student connections team was her favourite extracurricular activity.

“And I have a lot of extracurricular activities so that’s saying something,” she adds with a laugh, noting that she will definitely be joining the group next year.