Middle school tours meant to put parents fears to rest

Middle school tours meant to put parents fears to rest
Published: Jan. 31, 2013 at 9:19 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2013 at 9:54 PM HST
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Harald Ebeling
Harald Ebeling
Lois Yamauchi
Lois Yamauchi
Eimanie Thomas
Eimanie Thomas

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Remember back when you were 11 or 12 years old?

Middle school was much more than just making the grade - and parents can be just as anxious as their children transition from grade school to intermediate. But a fledgling public school program is helping alleviate those fears.

Harald Ebeling wants to find the perfect fit for his fifth grader - who's heading to middle school next year. "We're trying to put ourselves into her shoes and see: 'Would she like it here?'"

Ebeling has toured three intermediate public schools now - looking at the curriculum and extra-curricular activities each has to offer. "You get a gut feeling for what a place is like just by having walked around for an hour or so," he explains.

Today, they're visiting Washington Intermediate.

"We're the oldest middle or intermediate school on Oahu," explains Principal Michael Harano, as he guides a group of parents from classroom to classroom.

The group "Parents for Public Schools of Hawaii", PPSHI, sponsors the tours – along with the schools themselves - to promote public education and soothe any fears parents may have. Statistics show: moms and dads in Hawaii, especially in Honolulu, tend to pull their kids - right before 6th or 7th grade - opting, instead, for private schooling.

"People remember these scary fears and the awkwardness, and they're just afraid," says Lois Yamauchi of PPSHI. "And so, they're afraid both that their child won't be safe, and they're also afraid that they won't get a good education. And it's not true."

This is the second year that they've sponsored this program. Last year, parents took a tour of six intermediate schools. This year, they've expanded it to 10 events.

"We want to try to keep the 6th grade classes in kind of the same area," says Principal Harano – as he continues the full campus tour.

Parents also hear from students about their transitions. Two years ago, 13 year old Eimanie Thomas had all the normal adolescent angst going into sixth grade. "Not a lot of my friends went to Washington Intermediate, so I was afraid that I'd be kind of by myself for all 3 years," the 8th grader told us. "And then, I was just afraid that the teachers, they would be stricter."

Instead, Eimanie has blossomed into Student Body President. Tour organizers say public schools are filled with these success stories - if parents just take a closer look.

Parents for Public Schools of Hawaii is holding more events on the middle school transition. You can head to its website for more information.

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