Transition into Middle School

Posted on: Wed, 03/07/2007 - 12:38am
bensmomdad's picture
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Joined: 06/10/2004 - 09:00

Our 10 year old will be going into middle school (Jr High) this fall. We are concerned with the changes that appear to be on the horizon, i.e. one isolated peanut free lunch table, epi-pen responsibility on the 10 year old himself, etc.

Anyone out there already in this grade level we would welcome your input on how it is set up at your school, how it has worked, etc....

Thank you!

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Posted on: Wed, 03/07/2007 - 1:43am
Carefulmom's picture
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Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

Hi, my dd is pa and milk allergic and in 6th grade. She is 11 3/4. We did have a peanut free table in elementary school, but not in middle school. I was astounded at how little pb is eaten in middle school, so we decided dd did not need one. I think pb is considered more a food for little kids and it is just not "cool" to eat it by middle school. All the teachers at dd`s school are trained on epi and were already trained before dd started there. It is the school`s rule. It is also the school`s rule that no food can be eaten in the classrooms. Dd carries an epi in her backpack and there are several throughout the school, maybe 6 total. Not sure what else you would need to know. I would check if I were you and see how much pb is really eaten at your upcoming middle school. I had no idea how much of a difference it was from elementary school. It made me feel a lot better. By this age, dd`s friends know not to bring it or buy it, and she eats with her friends. The kids eat outside here (southern California), guess that isn`t really an option where you are due to weather. Also, there is almost no food brought in for events compared to elementary school. Nothing is brought in for birthdays like in elementary school, there was no December holiday party, etc. Overall I really find the allergies much easier to manage in middle school. The kids are all more responsible, and people are not bringing in food every time you blink your eyes like in elementary school.
[This message has been edited by Carefulmom (edited March 07, 2007).]

Posted on: Wed, 03/07/2007 - 3:55am
Chicago's picture
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Joined: 04/21/2001 - 09:00

I am a middle school room parent and I have done my best to have safe foods at the parties - but it really doesn't matter because the kids do not eat!! The few parents that are there just pour soda and pretend they are invisible.
Ok, they do eat a bit, but thankfully, food is no longer the focus of the party.

Posted on: Wed, 03/07/2007 - 6:49am
Going Nuts's picture
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Joined: 10/04/2001 - 09:00

My son is in 7th grade, and had a peanut free table in elementary. During the middle of 5th grade, he realized that he really didn't want to be segregated at a PN free table in middle school, so we experimented with a non-peanut free table in elementary where I felt it was manageable (RN's office directly opposite the cafeteria). He did fine.
He now sits at a "general admission" table. Very few kids bring their own lunches in middle school (my son does); most eat the hot lunches. Knock wood, he's never had a reaction in school.
Amy

Posted on: Wed, 03/07/2007 - 11:38pm
Lindajo's picture
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Joined: 10/14/2003 - 09:00

My DD entered the 6th grade this year and its been anything but easy compared to her elementary years. I do have a thread I started under "schools" that may be of help to you.
She had a peanut free table in elementary school and in middle, they do not have one. They feel the kids are older and do not need one. My theory is it should be individual-based, depending on the child. My DD felt more comfortable at a PF table. I had to fight to get it. For the first month, there were several kids at her table who had some sort of peanut food to eat. So, we requested a peanut free table and they gave us a peanut free zone.
Second, she didn't like carrying her Epi pens around all day with her. She has been teased about this. They call her "Hey Epi Girl" and "peanut girl". Kids this age are very sensitive and some can be down right mean. They also make fun of what she brings for lunch. Unfortunately, we both don't trust the school lunch in the middle school, probably because I'm not working there to over see it. My DD is not the only child to come through this school with a PA. The principal flat out told me they were peanut-free, which I know they are not. I work for the same food service department for our district and PBJs are offered in the cafe.
Also, in gym class, the gym teacher told the kids for energy they could eat those energy bars during class. Now, most of those energy bars I've seen have some sort of peanuts or nuts in it for protein. That means after these kids eat this they then go touch the gym equipment and spread it everywhere. This issue was also addressed.
She also had an episode where she was excluded from an entire group project and sent to the library because they were using peanut candy and they didn't think she would be safe. Duh! They forgot to call her back to class for 1.5 hours.
All her teachers know about her allergy but one still continues to eat peanuts/nuts before she comes to his class. She has found him rubbing his hands together and saying "Oh sorry" as she's walking in.
Lastly, it helps to have a great nurse, which we do not. She is very lacka-daisical sometimes. I can understand it is hard to be the only nurse for 3 grades but I don't trust her at all. I hope I don't ever have to find out how she responds in an emergency situation.
I would call the school and set up a meeting with the nurse, principal and her assigned guidance counselor before the end of this school year and just let them know your expectations and hear how they handle things. Possibly get something in writing so that it doesn't get lost over the summer months.
ETA: I've reraised the thread "DD asked to leave because of allergy". I hope it can be of some help.
[This message has been edited by Lindajo (edited March 08, 2007).]

Posted on: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 1:30am
Jenna's picture
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Joined: 07/09/2000 - 09:00

LindaJo,
Just wanted to say that it sounds like we have had many of the same battles. (We have a child that entered the middle school last year.) I think as more of these kids enter middle school, the schools will eventually become more willing and cooperative. So much of it depends on the personalities at the school too. Do you find that? There are the difficult people who just want to dig their heels in and then there are the teachers, etc. (some of them) that go so far beyond and above and are absolutely wonderful. So, are things generally going okay for you now or are there difficulties every day?
bensmomdad ~ I would recommend that you determine what it is that you feel you need as far as accomodations and ask for that. Be prepared to present documentation as to why it is needed. Document everything. Don't pay any attention to the, "we have never done this before" line. Many schools are just beginning to have to deal with this and there are many more kids behind ours that will make it necessary too. The schools also like to say at this level that it is time for the kids to be responsible. Yes, these kids are growing up put you don't just throw them into a situation that is not safe. In some instances, making the kids responsible makes it so the schools don't have to be - and the less they need to do the better in their minds.
If there are any specifics you need, I would be happy to let you know how we dealt with it at our school. I know there are some middle schools that are great. Hope yours is one of them. Good luck.

Posted on: Thu, 03/08/2007 - 5:39am
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Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

Lindajo, does your dd have a 504? If not, I would get one ASAP. Pretty much every thing you mentioned should be taken care of by a 504, including the disability harassment which is against the law (calling her "epi girl" and teasing her constitures disability harassment and the school is not allowed to permit this).

Posted on: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 2:05am
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Joined: 02/27/2007 - 09:00

What exactly should I ask from my 504 meeting. My son only has 3 months left in middle school . Will this actually carry on till he is out of their hair? If so what will I need to ask for High school level? Right now I want hands washed from the peanut butter eaters instead of them having ds wipe down everything he is to touch. " It being his responsibility and all" I want his eating area clear of contact reactions since he is reacting to smell now. How will this go over in the high school level? He now has to go to the media center to eat on days he feels threatened. I did get 504 form feeled out by dr. and they recieved it today. What should i expect time wise? Thanks

Posted on: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 6:03am
Lindajo's picture
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Joined: 10/14/2003 - 09:00

Carefulmom...I'm working on a 504. I have a letter from her doc and I have to set up a meeting with guidance to get it in motion. She's been out alot this past few weeks due to her tonsillectomy -- set us way back. I have a few things I would like to put into it as well.

Posted on: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 10:41am
Carefulmom's picture
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Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

Glad to hear you are doing it. It makes a huge difference.

Posted on: Fri, 03/09/2007 - 8:52pm
bensmomdad's picture
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Joined: 06/10/2004 - 09:00

Thank you everyone for the feedback. We are worried as he is only 4th grade now and already teasing is going on, it hasn't really gone on to this point. We already have 504 and have contacted the middle school to set up meeting.
Keeping fingers crossed we get the right balance of safety and happiness for him.

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