Beginnings: Back to school with sixth graders

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On the opposite side of the courtyard, members of the class of 2026 reconnected with their new peers after Fall Outing. They wore long khaki skirts, purple polos and white cardigans, carrying large backpacks.

Sixth grade dean Lauren Sekula shared that as dean she gets to have “different,” “really special relationship” with the sixth grade class and “love[s] it all.”

Being an advisor and teacher, I love getting to know the families. There’s more opportunities for me to get to know them a little bit better,” Sekula said. “I love getting to work with my team. I have literally the dream team; they are fabulous. I think they really make the sixth grade experience so special.”

Communications and Strategic Marketing Manager Avani Shah is “excited” for what this sixth grade class will bring to the rest of the school year. What specifically stood out to her about the class was her first interaction with the sixth graders during Fall Outing. She explained that the students were assigned a “bus buddy” and given “chat pack questions.” Their task was to get to know each other and introduce their partner once they reached their destination.

“That’s what really brought that kindness to light. They really got to know one another and made one another feel comfortable and loved[…], ” Shah said. “Not a single girl sat by herself or was upset and had to come to an adult by herself, either. There was some girl who was conscious of it and would just go to her, saying ‘What’s going on?’ That wasn’t something we told them. It was natural to them.” 

Shah, who is also a sixth grade advisor, said back to school season with sixth graders always “makes her feel like a kid again” and she always “loves” seeing how by the end of the school year, they are “full on Archer girls.”

“They are so energetic, and they’re just so full of life, and they are just experiencing everything at Archer for the first time, and I really like being able to see that magic come to life for them,” Shah said. “You can see them kind of putting the pieces together, being a big kid.”

Shah also acknowledged the range of emotions sixth graders go through at the start of the year and the challenges they face throughout the year.

“It was really really really scary because I didn’t know where any of my classes were or anyone who was there,” sixth grader Julia Smithson said. “I got lost and was late so many times.”

However, Shah shared some words of advice for the sixth grade class.

“Take a deep breath. It’s going to be fine. You are going to make it. You are doing great. Keep being kind.”

Additional reporting contributed by Lizette Gonzalez, Cadence Callahan and Sabrina Kim. 

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