Impact Day gives PPMS 6th graders a glimpse into high school

Published 9:26 am Tuesday, January 29, 2019

PELHAM – About 230 sixth graders at Pelham Park Middle School received first-hand information from Peer Helpers at Pelham High School about what it’s like to be a high school student during Impact Day on Wednesday, Jan. 16.

PHS Peer Helpers sponsor and Spanish teacher Diann Thomas said the purpose of Impact Day, which was held at the Pelham Recreation Center, was to get the sixth graders to think about their path in life.

“We were trying to help them visualize the future they want for themselves,” she said. “There’s a lot that can pull them away from having positive experiences in high school, so this is just one way to help set them on the right path.”

Thirty-seven Peer Helpers helped the sixth graders outline their goals for high school and figure out what steps they need to take to get reach their goals.

Sixth grade PPMS counselor Melba Holloway said Impact Day is a part of the school’s college and career readiness initiative.

“We want them to start making decisions about grades, what activities they want to be involved in, learn about good study habits and how what they do now can help them reach their future goals,” Holloway said. “We’re exposing them to their options now. The earlier the better.”

The earlier students are exposed to possible career paths, they less likely they are to change their major in college, Holloway said.

At the beginning of the day, the Peer Helpers introduced themselves to the students and shared what they thought they would be when they were in the sixth grade versus what they want now.

“As you go along the journey, your plans may change and that’s alright as long as you still have a plan,” Holloway said.

The Peer Helpers shared how some of the classes they took in high school exposed them to new things and set them on a different path. PHS junior and Peer Helper Ashley Anderson said it was good to see the sixth graders so engaged and excited about succeeding in the future.

“I think it was good for them to be able to talk to someone in high school to see what they could be one day,” Anderson said. “I could tell it was a very eye-opening experience for them. I can remember in middle school it was so daunting and scary to think about making that transition to high school.”

Sixth-grader Mary Claire Gilliam said Impact Day was also an opportunity for her to get to know her classmates better.

“For one of the activities, we wrote down three things about ourselves that people might not have known and then we had to guess who wrote what,” Gilliam said. “I learned new things about my classmates and I found out that I had things in common with some of them. I also realized that I would like to learn to play basketball.”

Gilliam said she also learned the importance of setting goals for herself. Right now, her goal is to attend Auburn University to become a teacher.

The Peer Helpers will check in with the students every year until they reach high school to reassess their goals and to see what progress they’ve made.