Eighth-grader Aileen Wiswakarma, of New Windsor, was asked to transition from her previous school, the now-closed New Windsor Middle School, to Northwest Middle School in Taneytown this year. Aileen seemed to take the swap in stride, calling her friend, eighth-grader Madison Mattia-Soisson, before school started to figure out where to they would sit at lunch. The duo, who said they have been friends for seven years, chose a table close to the entrance and chatted happily while eating packed lunches.
"Eighth-grade makes me feel a little scared because you're kind of not sure where you are, but you can always ask anyone," Aileen said. "It's a very big school but it's welcoming."
"Eighth-graders are at the top of the chain," added Madison. "All the students are very nice and kind. I'm trying to be interactive with everyone. I like how different teachers come to lunch and talk to the students."
Northwest Middle School Principal David Watkins said the first day of school went well and credited the school's recent open house for making the students' transition easy.
"We were concerned about buses arriving on time," Watkins said. "Two buses arrived late, but for the most part everyone arrived on time. As always, my concern is to make sure students are scheduled correctly and in the right classes. The students seem to have settled in. I think the open house really helped students navigate the building."
Watkins took time during lunch to talk about the school's rules and dismissal procedures with the students.
Watkins also instructed the students to dump their trash table by table and encouraged them to recycle. He asked them not to run on the concrete during recess and selected students who volunteered to manage the recess athletic equipment.
Eighth-grader Vallon Franklin, of Westminster, said he enjoyed watching the new students assimilate.
"I'm looking around at all the sixth-graders and New Windsor kids who don't know where to go," Vallon said. "I like that the New Windsor kids are here because there are more opportunities to talk to people and make new friends."
Seventh-grader Samantha Burton, of Taneytown, also liked the prospect of making new friends.
"This year is like sixth grade all over again. In sixth grade, we all joined together and this year it's other kids coming in," Samantha said.
Eighth-grader Ceyda Beyaz, of Union Bridge, saw some recognizable faces on her first day.
"I get to see all familiar faces from fifth grade at Elmer Wolfe," Ceyda said.
Sixth-grader Audrey Taylor, of Taneytown, met sixth-grader Rachael Baldwin, of New Windsor, at lunch for the first time and the duo seemed to be having a great time sitting together.
"It's been amazing because I'm meeting new people. I can make a lot of new friends," Audrey said.
Sixth-grader Aleana Hopkins, of New Windsor, confessed she had gotten lost a few times.
"You get scared for middle school and you're not familiar with your new teachers, but they made me feel comfortable," Aleana said.
Among the myriad emotions, eighth-grader Jasmine Butler, of Taneytown, described the first day as "interesting."
"We're learning a whole bunch of new stuff and meeting new people. I like it. Everybody's getting along," Jasmine said.
Eighth-grader Calab Thomas, of Taneytown, described the first day as "just like every other first day."
"I've been here for two years, so I see the same people," Calab said. "It's been a little more interesting because I'm meeting new people. I like all my classes so far."
While supervising recess, Assistant Principal Jeff Cook said the students seemed to be making an "excellent transition."
"The students are doing well, even the new ones coming from out of the district," Cook said. "They're just getting to know the staff and school, but it's gone very well."