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Cub camp seriously silly for Patti Welder students

By KBell
Aug. 1, 2011 at 3:01 a.m.
Updated Aug. 6, 2011 at 3:06 a.m.

Ashton Maughan, 11, left, and Amanda Keyser, 11, learn about empathy during Cub Camp onJuly 27 at Patti Welder Middle School. Each day of the four-day-long camp had a theme, such as responsibility, respect, bullying and conflict resolution. The camp was to help students transition into middle school.

For a few days, Carlos Garza was not just the principal of Patti Welder Magnet Middle School. He was Dashing Dr. G, who, while donning a school-colored Hawaiian shirt, visor and lei, danced and modeled across a red carpet in the school cafeteria.

"We believe if you capture a kid's heart, you have their mind," Garza said, taking a breather from the third day of Cub Camp at the middle school.

The school's first-ever camp aims to capture incoming sixth graders' hearts by relating serious messages in silly ways.

Before breaking off into classes that would delve into conflict resolution, about 50 kids reviewed school policies through a beach-themed version of "Hollywood Squares."

Surrounded by oversized shades, beach balls and next year's students, teachers were just as competitive as the kids.

"It's just that vibe, that energy," Garza said. "We at Patti Welder feed off the kids' energy."

From underneath a pink floppy hat, Assistant Principal Sharla Williams said the camp was designed to alleviate the fears the Patti Welder staff usually notices when sixth graders come to a new school.

"Middle school is a tough time ... so it just helps build the relationship from student to student, and student to staff," she said.

Josselyn Rosas, who went by her tag name Joyful Josselyn, said she feels much more prepared to start middle school after making friends at both Cub Camp and the previous school's Destination Success camp.

The 10-year-old had mostly been scared of bullying, but Cub Camp had already tackled that topic.

"When we got to school, (Garza) told us everything we can do to stop bullying," Josselyn said. "A friend can help you, and you can tell your parents and your teachers."

Josselyn's new friend, "Bright" Briana Sanchez, tied bullying to another day's lesson: respect.

"Some people, they like to put people down," the 11-year-old said. "But respect is helping people, not putting them down."

While Smash Mouth's "All Star" blared from a boombox, Josselyn revealed a game plan she learned from camp.

"If they (are) mean, give them 12 compliments," she said.

Garza said he envisions the camp becoming a Patti Welder tradition for years to come. The excitement seemed to be catching on quick.

"We've seen a huge change in the kiddos. They were very, very reserved. By the second day, they were dancing. By the third day, they were leading the dance," Garza said.

A few minutes later, the cafeteria transformed into a disco floor. A student grabbed Dashing Dr. G's arm, and the Patti Welder Panthers, both old and new, got down to the Macarena.



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