C.S. Porter Middle School is starting the school year a little early, inviting its students and parents to a special welcome back barbecue and open house on Tuesday evening.
This is the second year C.S. Porter has chosen to forgo holding the traditional open house in early September, instead welcoming the school community the night before the start of classes Wednesday.
Principal Julie Robitaille said there are two reasons for the change: The first is the difficulty of scheduling an open house that doesn't conflict with others at C.S. Porter’s four feeder schools; the second is to better engage parents, particularly those of kids who are entering sixth grade.
“We’re so fresh and excited just having that opportunity to see some people again and meet new parents and kids for the first time,” Robitaille said.
At the barbecue, students will receive their school schedules and can put supplies in their lockers so they are ready for class the next day. All of the teachers attend the open house, and parents can visit their children’s classes and introduce themselves to the staff.
“It’s all about creating a more relaxed, social environment to start the school year off the right way,” Robitaille said.
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Parents will also receive a packet of all the forms they need to be filled out, eliminating the weeks it used to take to have the paperwork completed and turned in, she said.
Robitaille said the biggest transition most students entering middle school face is having five or more different teachers a day, and it goes smoother if they and their parents establish a relationship with each one.
Because students only attend middle school for three years, she said C.S. Porter works especially hard to create a strong community atmosphere.
“It’s also that time of independence, too. Students want to be independent and yet they want to have their families involved, and we try to maximize that parent engagement,” Robitaille said. “We want our parents to think that they can rely on us for support.”
Last year, 95 percent of C.S. Porter students and their families came to the barbecue and open house.
This year's event will start at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the school, 2510 W. Central Ave.