From Mighty Eighth Grader to Lowly Freshman

The jump from eighth grade to ninth grade; it's rarely easy and regardless of the school, the list of concerns from incoming freshmen is usually the same.

Incoming freshmen from Sexton High School in Lansing spent the day with upperclassmen as part of the school's 'Link Crew' orientation.

"We're trying to get rid of that fear and make the freshman feel good about themselves," said Colleen Jennings, a teacher and coordinator of the orientation.

Jennings said the program lets the upperclassmen help the freshmen learn the right steps to take.

Experts say making a smooth transition into high school involves much more than finding one's way around the building or having an upperclassman to talk to. It's also essential that parents take an active role.

"I think one of the most important things for the parent of a freshman to understand is that the first four to six weeks is really crucial," said Glenn Stutzky of Michigan State University, one of the country's foremost experts on teen psychology.

He said parents need to make a special effort during the opening weeks to simply check in.

"Find out how are they doing in terms of making friends because friendships are probably more important to the student than the actual classes," Stutzky said.