‘Girls Day Out’ prepares students for high school transition and beyond

South Fayette Twp School District  |  Posted on

Girls Day Out participants on stage with keynote speaker Kym Gable, KDKA TV news anchor, who shared communication tips.

South Fayette Middle School is setting students up for success with its annual Girls Day Out, designed to empower and equip eighth grade girls. Transitioning to a new building, especially when it is to the high school, can lead to worrisome and/or anxious feelings for students. By providing eighth graders with opportunities to preview and learn about high school, the district hopes to increase the likelihood of early success, as well as to ease some of their nervousness.

During the program, students rotate through stations to learn about communication, the impact of drugs and alcohol, body image, stress, and high school expectations. They also have the opportunity to engage in team-building, dance and yoga, and artistic activities. Some of this year’s favorites included rock painting and painting a canvas with a positive or encouraging note that could be used as a personal affirmation.

The eighth graders also have a chance to ask questions of female high school students during a Q&A panel. Participants have commented that this is their favorite part and that they learn so much from the candidness of the high schoolers. This exchange also allows the eighth graders to learn familiar faces and names that they can seek out once they are in high school.

According to Dr. Kristin Deichler, assistant to the superintendent for secondary education, Girls Day Out is designed to enhance participants’ self-esteem, as well as to empower them to make positive decisions: “Entering high school can be an overwhelming time in which our young adults are closer to their futures and making a lot of independent decisions. For many, this time is also the first time in which they are faced with pressure – whether social, academic or managing their time – in which they have to make tough decisions. This program gives them a foundation to tackle those decisions and to be aware of what they actually may face, versus the fabled perception of what high school will bring.”

Although Girls Day Out is just for female students, the district also holds a parallel program for eighth grade boys, True G.R.I.T. (Growing Responsible and Influential Teens).

“As a district, we also believe in providing experiences to all students in which they are developing their whole selves in order to thrive in a global society,” Deichler says. “This transition program has integrated learning and social experiences that are not academic in nature; yet, they will allow each individual to better understand themselves and the world around them.