Seventh-grade students gathered at the Utah Olympic Park Wednesday, June 4, to spend the day on the Extreme Zipline, conquering obstacle courses and rock climbing. Students ran across the field in front of the ski jumps in large, transparent "hamster balls" while their classmates played soccer beside them or Ziplined down the mountain over them. Others tackled the large rock-climbing wall or purchased watermelon slices to cool down.
Anne Williams, a seventh-grade French teacher at the middle school, said it was an opportunity for the students to spend one last, fun day together.
"We organized this primarily through Kerry Morgan, who is one of the parents and also has a great connection with the UOP," she said. "It's their last full day of school together before they move on to Treasure Mountain.
Penn Komisar and John Flitton, two seventh-graders entering junior high school in the fall, said they are excited to get to know students in high school and prepare for playing football or hockey at the high school. However, they do have some reservations about being the youngest students in the school.
"I hope I don't get beat up by the older kids," Komisar said, Flitton laughing alongside him.
Williams said they are not the only ones who fear that. Some are nervous after having heard the ninth-graders will shove them into lockers or stuff them in garbage cans, but she said that rumor is "a myth that never really goes away." Other students, she added, are more nervous about classes and teachers.
"They're nervous about the fact that their grades start to count a little bit more in eighth-grade," she said.
Mikelle Olsen and her best friend Shannen Springer said they are anxious about finding their classes on a larger campus and have heard the halls are so small they are only allowed to use drawstring backpacks.
"I'm taking a Pop Art class and Facts and Tech," Springer said. "In Facts, you learn how to cook and sew and all that stuff, and in tech, you learn how to make stuff."
Olsen will join her in the Pop Art class and will also be taking Guitar I and Dance II in order to prepare for dance company auditions at the high school in a few years.
For Williams, who has been teaching at Ecker Hill since it opened in 1996, it is bittersweet to see her students grow up and move on. In seventh-grade, she said, the students change so much over the school year that you might just be starting to get the best of them at the end just before it's time for them to leave. However, she is happy for them to enter a new school and broaden their horizons.
"They're excited to move on, and they're all turning into teenagers. They're not little anymore," she said. "But we're always excited at the school, too, because we get the next group that comes up. It's always fun."