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Briarcliff Sixth Graders "Cohesive and Dynamic"

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Tracy Dalessandro's sixth grade son is loving Briarcliff Middle School and his favorite part of the school day is lunch.

"He really loves the independence. During lunch, they can sit anywhere they want," said Dalessandro, who attended Briarcliff Middle School's sixth grade Back to School night on Wednesday.

Other parents said going to lockers in between classes is something their sixth graders are getting used to.

"My son's a little overwhelmed. He has to go from one class to lockers in between class, and learning combinations has caused some frustration," said Lisa Sinatra-Dunckelman, the mother of 11-year-old Joseph Dunckelman. "Also, he has to get up an hour earlier, by 5:50 a.m."

Karla Constantinou said her daughter, Cynthia Constantinou, likes switching classes from period to period.

"She enjoys being with different people during the day," she said.

During a presentation in the middle school's theater, Principal Susan Howard said middle school is a time when children try out new things, whether it is new language or new friends.

"Students may shift their friendships since elementary school and that can sometimes be painful," Howard said. "There are going to be bumps in the road. Sometimes it may be that their heart is broken because a friendship has changed. Sometimes their language may not be the best choice."

To help everyone feel welcome at school, middle school teachers will tell students to invite others to sit by them during lunch if they see they are unsure of where to sit. This year's sixth graders have proven themselves to be "cohesive and dynamic" in the short time they have been at Briarcliff Middle School, Howard said.

"On the first day, I saw many children inviting one another to come and join during lunch, others holding the door and picking up pencils for one another," the principal said.

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