“I have 10 moms,” said Katie Samuelson, a fifth-grade student at Reynoldsburg’s Gateway Academy.
Wait, what? How can a kid have 10 moms? That doesn’t make any sense…unless you know that Katie is talking about her “adopted family” of fifth and sixth grade students in the Reynoldsburg’s Gateway Academy.
In fact, Katie has an entire family tree at the school. It all started seven years ago, when students wanted to create bonds between students in different grades. Today, the tradition is still going strong.
Amy McKibben is a language-arts teacher at the middle school. She thinks that this form of connection between students are very important, especially when students are transitioning from child to adult.
“They need the support of a lot of people in that transition,” said McKibben about the students who participate in the “adoption” program. “They are figuring who they are as people. Belonging to something helps them figure that out.”
The students really do act like a family while in school. It is not at all uncommon to see moms and dads giving their children advice concerning classes and friends. They often play together during recess and share hugs between classes.
“My mom banned me from being lonely,” said Miriam Wagner, a fifth-grader. “No one wants you to be left out.”
The families do grow quickly and sometimes students have multiple parents. However, no student is allowed to be excluded from the adoption process, which means everyone is included. As a result, some students, like Bryce Duchesne, a sixth-grader, have very large families. Bryce has 17 children and so many nieces, nephews, and grandchildren that he has lost count of them all.
“I feel so old, like I’m 94,” he said.
At a time when it can be hard to make friends, it seems like this family networking system is a great way for students to feel included and like they belong.