Tips for Transitioning to A New School

For some people, summer break is just a time between changing grades. For others, it’s a time between changing schools. Whether it’s transferring schools or transitioning from one school level to the next, starting over in a brand-new environment can be scary. But it doesn’t have to be! Here are some tips I have for making the big transition, right from my own experience of starting new schools:

1. See if You Already Know Anyone—Find out if you already know anyone who goes to your new school who you’d feel comfortable reaching out to. When I was switching to a new middle school, I reached out to someone I used to go to church with and asked if she wanted to hang out that summer. I ended up meeting a lot of her friends and it was great already knowing a few people before first day of school. When I went to college, I reached out to an older girl I went to high school with who went there, and she offered to drive me around campus before my first day of class! It may be intimidating to reach out to people you don’t know super well but doing so can give you that extra comfort the first day of knowing a familiar face.

2. Enjoy the Blank Slate—This seems like it would be the scariest part, but in my opinion it’s the best part of starting a new school. Didn’t like the activities you were in at your old school or didn’t love your friend group? This is the time to start over! Explore, look around, see what’s available and decide what interests you. This is your chance to start new relationships, new hobbies, and be the person you want to be! I have loved the chances college has given me to invest myself in the people and activities that mean the most to me.

3. Be Friendly to Everyone—This should go without saying, but it really is important to start on a good note with everyone you meet. This doesn’t mean you have to become best friends with them, but it leaves a good overall impression if you treat everyone with kindness and respect from the moment you meet them. Plus, you never know if who you’re talking to is transitioning schools too and is just as nervous as you are!

4. Be Patient—Chances are, everything’s not going to be perfect after just the first day. That’s life! But stick with it and keep being open to new people and opportunities. You may realize that what you thought you wanted to do, wasn’t really meant for you and that’s totally OK. I played Varsity softball the first two years of high school and while it was great for making friends, I totally stunk at the sport and realized it really wasn’t meant for me. I decided to pick back up tennis and ended up making the Varsity team my junior year and loved it. Sometimes things work out just the way they’re supposed to, whether it’s what you thought you wanted or not!

5. Breathe—It’s going to be great!

Best of luck with everything, you’re going to crush it.

Carolyne

 

Summer Service and Volunteering

With all of the free time during the summer, it’s a perfect opportunity to give back to the community. Whether it’s volunteering at local nonprofits or coming up with your own service projects, it’s a fun way to engage the entire family and teach kids how important it is to help others. Here are some ideas for serving this summer:

1. Donate Old Items to Goodwill—This is a two-for-one because you’ll accomplish cleaning out your house (and all of those many closets), while also helping people who may not be able to provide those same items for their families.

2. Do Yard Work for Elderly Neighbors—In the intense summer heat (that has already come a little too soon), it’s more difficult for older people to get out and clean their lawn. Offer to help them out with it, or even run errands for them. You won’t know how much they’ll appreciate this.

3. Bake Goods and Take Them to the Local Fire Station—With all the hard work these guys are doing you just know they’ll appreciate a batch of cookies, and the recognition, too.

4. Make Goodie Bags for the Homeless—Instead of handing them a few coins you have, give them a plastic bag with water, crackers, hand wipes, a travel size deodorant and shampoo, and a pair of socks. This will go so much further and provide practical help.

5. Volunteer at the Athens Area Emergency Food Bank—You could help organize and stock the food pantry, or even work outside in the garden helping harvest the food. Don’t forget to collect cans from your neighbors before you go!

6. Provide a Meal for the Athens Area Homeless Shelter—Providing a meal to families in need is one of the most thoughtful ways to give back and respond to homelessness. There is always need for this, and it’s something the whole family can do!

 

Happy Helping!

Carolyne Eith

Keeping Kids off Tech This Summer

Hooray, it’s finally summer! Which means no more carpooling, homework, packing lunches, driving to sports practices… but wait, what are you going to do with all of this free time? We all know what kids want with free time, and that’s more time on their electronics. While the summer is a time we often allow a little more leeway with screen time, here are a few ways to make sure your kids don’t spend too much time on their devices when school is out:

 

1. Set Time Limits – This one is pretty standard but it’s useful in making sure everyone knows when screen time is and isn’t allowed. This could be setting a time in the morning that technology can’t be used up until, setting a cutoff time at night, or just determining the total amount of time allowed per day on the screen and let them use it as they wish!

2. Have Activities Planned During the Day – This doesn’t have to be expensive! Some ideas include going to the local library, taking the dog to the park, planting a garden in your backyard, having a lemonade stand, or even just playing some board games. By keeping the kids engaged, you leave less downtime that they’ll want to spend on technology, plus it’s great bonding time for your family.

3. Sign Them Up For Summer Camps – This isn’t always feasible, but there are a lot of different camps out there that you could try to fit with your schedule! Even if it’s just a half-day camp for a week or so during the summer, it’s time that technology isn’t even an option and gives you free time as well. If you’re looking for a camp, Strong Girls has a great one each summer at Athens Academy, and the link to sign up is here: https://campscui.active.com/orgs/AthensAcademy0?orglink=camps-registration#/selectSessions/2604606

4. Be an Example – As their parent, the amount you use technology dictates what they think is normal. If you’re on your phone 24/7, they’re going to be confused when you tell them not to be. Set an example! Maybe use those time limits for yourself, and enjoy planning activities you can all do together to connect without the internet!

 

Have a safe and happy summer!

Carolyne Eith

In Memory of the Florida Shooting Victims

As all of you know, there was yet another horrific mass shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. There were 17 people killed and many people who lost their loved ones and friends. The devastating event has sparked much upheaval and hopefully will successfully push for the desirable change. There have been rallies for a ban on specific weapons, for a crack down on the FBI and for more awareness of mental illness. No matter what your view may be, everyone is affected by the events and the actions that will follow. It is not right for parents and kids to be afraid of a school environment, which is supposed to be a safe, positive and motivating place. The issue must be addressed and something must be done.

The people who are standing up for what they believe and speaking their truth are proactively fighting for change. It's so important not to be afraid to speak up for what you believe in. Every person has the power to make an impact! Throughout history, those who have continually fought and spread awareness of their cause are the ones to be remembered and made change happen. If nobody stands up then nothing will happen. We believe in the importance of every individuals actions in this and any movement! We have the power to make change and make our community a better place! The Times Up movement is a perfect example of the positive outcomes of people speaking their truth and coming together to create a powerful force.

Remember to cherish every day and your loved ones because you truly never know what may happen. In loving memory of Allysa Alhadeff, Martin Angianco, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jaime Guttenberg, Christopher Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrup, and Peter Wang. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and friends and to their community whom are grieving together over this tragedy.

Anna White

 

Valentines Day: Feel the Love and Spread the Love

As Valentine’s Day approaches, many of us begin to feel anxious in a variety of ways. It may be trying to decide what to get our significant other or trying to make plans with friends. Whatever your relationship status is, it is important to remember the actual meaning of the holiday which is the celebration of love. How you decide to celebrate love is entirely up to your interpretation. Sometimes this holiday can make people feel lonely, but it is important to take note of the love from family and friends who surround you, as well as the love from yourself. It is also important to realize that although Valentine’s Day is just one day of the year, love should be given to yourself and those close to you year-round. Here are some ideas of ways to feel and share the love to yourself and others throughout the entire year.

1.    Write a letter to someone you love and tell them why you love them. This could be your mom, your sister, your grandma, your best friend or anyone else that you love!  People love feeling appreciated and the act of giving the letter to them will also make you feel happy to know that you have made someone’s day.

2.    Volunteer with your favorite organization. As mentioned previously, doing good things makes you feel good. It is scientifically proven that people who participate in meaningful activities report feeling happier and with more purpose in their life. What better way to spend the day making yourself happy by doing good for others?  

3.    Take the day for yourself. We live in a world that is all about being on the go and productive. For this reason, many people feel guilty about lounging the day away in their pajamas. While this wouldn’t be healthy to do every day, sometimes it is important to give yourself permission to relax. Even if it is just for an hour, treat yourself to a bubble bath, a cup of tea and a book, or whatever makes you feel most relaxed.

4.    Make a friend date. Make a date with a friend doing an activity that you both enjoy. Many of us are constantly connected to friends on social media or through texting, but it is important to take time for one-on-one connection. Put your phones away, go on a walk together or out to coffee, and see how refreshed you feel.

5.    Make a list of characteristics you love about yourself. This is an activity we did during Strong Girls that I truly believe anyone would benefit from. Each girl cut out a tracing of her hand on construction paper and glued it onto another piece of paper. Then she wrote all the characteristics she loves about herself on the hand. Then, whenever someone is feeling down she can high five her hand and remember all the reasons she loves herself. Even if you do not do the hand activity, writing down positive characteristics you like about yourself feels just as good!

These are a few of the many ways to show love to yourself and those around you. These ideas can be done on Valentine’s Day or on any day of the year! There is a quote by Barbara De Angelis that says, “Love and kindness are never wasted. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.” While receiving love feels good so does giving it! Feel good by telling those around you why they matter to you, and make sure you know why you matter too!

By Jenna Blumenthal

New Year’s Resolution: Be You

As we begin our journey into 2018, many of us reflect upon what the new year will bring as well as create New Year’s resolutions. Many people join gyms, pledge to eat healthier, or plan to learn a new skill. Regardless of what the specific resolution is, what most resolutions have in common is the desire to become better. It instills the idea in us that we need to become something other than what we already are. Further, it persists that what we are is not good enough.

This year, rather than thinking of your flaws and ways that you can become better, I challenge you to think of ways in which you are already whole. Think of all the amazing things that your body can do. Feel all the love that fills and surrounds you. Embrace all of the qualities that make you uniquely you.

This year, replace the days of self improvement with self affirmation. When you learn to accept yourself as you are, miraculous changes will occur. Daily stress, as well as insecurities, will vanish as self love fills the void. Remember to remind yourself, as well as your strong girl, that there is nothing more beautiful than loving your unique self just the way you are!

By Jenna Blumenthal