On September 9, 2015, Explore 2000 Middle School welcomed its new class of students to its new building at 180 9th Street, Jersey City. The sixth graders, also known as First Year Students, excited and ready to begin their middle school experience, took part in a Harry Potter style sorting ceremony to become assigned to their advisory groups. Each student will spend the year as a Lion, Tiger or Bear. Edwin gave a two thumbs up to the opening activities finding the sorting ceremony to be really personal and fun. Fellow sixth-grader Diandra agreed it was fun.
On the next day, all of the students arrived and the upperclassmen got their first look at their new educational home. Overall, they were excited and awed by the difference from the building they shared with County Prep. A Peer Mentor breakfast matched up upper and lower classmen for guidance and experience-sharing relationships that will last all year. The verdict on the meeting is “exceeded all expectations”. Facilitators and staff were introduced to the students and everyone was reminded that respect and trust was expected from everyone associated with Explore 2000.
Team building activities helped begin or develop friendships and rapport. In As the Wind Blows, students stand in a circle with one person in the middle. That person names an experience he or she has had and everyone who has had the same experience has to leave their places and find new ones in the circle. The last one standing takes the place in the middle. In another activity, each student tears off a length of toilet paper and has to give an adjective to describe him- or herself for each square of the length.
Friday’s more usual school day took time out for a September 11 tribute to the events of fourteen years ago. A short video provided the history of that day for the student body too young to remember it. When asked what she liked the best about the new building, 7th grader Nataly remembered how small a space Explore 2000 shared last year. She liked that, “We don’t have to share things with the high school.” Her friend Faith felt that the small space, “Made us closer.” Eighth grader Jonathan said that the new building, “Encourages me to work harder.” Aaron, also in the eighth grade said it was, “Cool having a whole building.”