Columbia schools' transition not easy for everyone

Some parents in Columbia are apprehensive about the changes that have taken place in the Columbia Public School System.

"It's a new situation. New classes, new teachers, everything's new, nothing's the same," said one concerned mother. "He already made that adjustment last year in terms of a new school and new classes... he had friends at the old school, but all the friends stayed at the old school... he's the only one who came to this school."

The school district has redrawn school boundaries as part of its plan to reogranize, a plan the district is excited about and says will benefit the students - that is, as soon as they are able to adapt to the transition from junior high schools to

middle schools, and adjust to the addition of a third high school to the community.

"Change is hard, for anyone," Columbia Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said. "We tried very hard to give our families enough time to make any adjustments, to deal with any considerations that they wanted to make with their families. We gave them nearly 18 months, we announced the boundaries prior to the school year."

For some fami;ies, especially those who have children with anxiety, that may not be enough.

Child psychologist Dr. Robert Kline says he has seen nearly two dozen families who have had children who faced difficulties when starting the new school year.

"This is more challenging than other school anxiety," Kline said. "This is hitting friendship, because we can't magically appear with friends. When you have a friend, it's golden... but when you lose a friend, to move or a thing like this - I think it can be very challenging."

If you are a middle school student, you may not see your friends in school this year. If you are a parent, there are ways you can help your children overcome obstacles and keep their friends.

"Parents have to work hard at inviting old friends back to the house or having sleepovers, or meeting after school or other extracurriculer activities," Kline suggested.

It is up to parents and the school district to work together, in order to ensure children's well-being.