Middle School Meet-Ups: Nerf Wars

Middle School Meet-Ups: Nerf Wars

The First In-Person Meet-Up of 2020 and How These Benefit Our Students

By Elyse Trusell, M.Ed., Program Director

Recently, our middle school students had the opportunity to attend our first in-person middle school meet-up of the year, a nerf war, on the TJS playground. Middle school meet-ups offer students the ability to practice social skills in a fun, real-life way, so it's a true JOY to offer these events in-person again.

Read through the Q&A below from Program Director Elyse Trusell to learn more about the unique benefits of our middle school meet-ups for students, how we're keeping students safe at these events and plans for future meet-ups. Then, be sure to check our video of students in action during the nerf war!

1. How did the idea for a nerf war middle school meet-up happen?

One of the challenges of COVID-19 is providing meaningful in-person social opportunities. We want to provide normal as possible social activities for our kiddos, and nerf wars was a creative and practical solution to provide a fun, interactive, but socially-distanced, hangout option. We were also able to take advantage of the beautiful weather we've been having.

2. How do middle school meet-ups benefit our students?

Joy School middle school meet-ups are intended to provide middle school students real-life social situations that are facilitated and chaperoned by Joy School chaperones without parents. Our TJS chaperones encourage independence and facilitate appropriate social interactions as needed, because the goal is to provide a typical hangout for our students and foster independence. If students meet at the movies, they buy their ticket and their concessions and practice real-life, practical skills in that context. Obviously, visits to the movie theater, football games and bowling are out for the time being due to COVID-19, but with flexibility and creativity, we are working on safe options that still fill our students' social buckets. Just being able to hang out in-person is so valuable!

3. Due to COVID-19, we were offering virtual middle school meet-ups. Are we still offering those, and how are we keeping students safe during our in-person meet-ups?

We are not providing virtual meet-ups at this time, but we are providing virtual After School Programs for enrichment and social opportunities across cohorts, and there are still a few spots available. We know that kids and families are craving the social enrichment opportunities in-person and, now that we are back on campus, it makes sense to provide these opportunities in-person as long as we can do so following safety protocols. Our middle school meetups will continue to follow the protocols in place during the academic day.

4. What are the plans for future meet-ups?

I'm excited to share that our middle school students have asked for another nerf war, and they have creative suggestions to make them more challenging. We have also talked about laser tag and even a drive-in movie on campus or a movie on the lawn. We've always welcomed student ideas and feedback about middle school meetups that are meaningful for our students. Feel free to email etrusell@thejoyschool.org or message me on Teams if you'd like to share an idea for the next middle school meet-up!

Be sure to check out our students in action during the nerf war in this video!

If you love what you've just read, be sure to share the JOY, and share this with a friend, family member or on social media!


Elyse Trusell

About the Authors

Elyse Trusell started with The Joy School in 2005. She earned a double Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish, as well as her Master's in Education from the University of St. Thomas. Before arriving at TJS, Elyse taught high school Spanish, privately tutored for the SAT and ACT college entrance exams and taught creative writing workshops for a non-profit education foundation. Teaching writing is her big passion, and she continues to be amazed by the student authors at TJS. Elyse loves spending time with her husband and children. She is a bona fide bookworm, but also enjoys fencing, shopping, hiking, singing and cooking for family and friends. Elyse always has time for a visit from her former students (hint, hint).

Degrees Held

Bachelor of Arts in English from University of St. Thomas

Master of Education from University of St. Thomas






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