ST. PAUL, Minn. -- For the first time, public middle school in St. Paul is including sixth grade. And the transition from elementary isn't easy.
"It was scary when you didn't see your friends," Yuepheng Xiong, now an eighth grader at Battle Creek Middle School, said.
That's why Xiong chose to join the school's "Where You Belong", or WEB, team. As a member it's his job to welcome and guide the new kids.
"There's high expectations and you have to work harder," Xiong said.
When the idea first came up to combine grades there was some push back from nervous parents, according to Steven Unowsky, the district's middle grades assistant superintendent.
But the goal to make schools stronger and students smarter prevailed. The district also hosted "Camp 76" a week before school started to help new middle schoolers get used to their lockers and classrooms.
"What that extra grade really allows us to do is build a better sense of relationship with our students, better sense of community with our families and also work together as teams over the years to really do a better job with our students," Unowsky said.
Students aren't the only new faces at Battle Creek. This is the first year Lisa Sayles-Adams has served as principal and she has big goals for the school year.
"It's very important to me that we see an improvement in achievement and making sure that are students are on task and making sure my staff has what they need," Sayles-Adams said.
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