Five sixth-grade students, wearing brightly colored clothes, play soccer on the grass at Cleveland Elementary.
Sixty sixth-grade students from different schools play soccer at Cleveland Elementary. Credit: Courtesy photo

In an event designed to bring sixth-graders from different elementary schools together before they start junior high, teachers and staff at four Santa Barbara schools hosted a lunchtime soccer league for about 60 students.

The sixth-graders from Monroe Elementary, Cleveland Elementary, Harding University Partnership School, and Adelante Charter played soccer at Cleveland Elementary.

The students from all four schools were sorted into teams to meet each other and build camaraderie. The youngsters said they were excited to get outside and play soccer with other students.

“We wanted to bring these students together for a day of fun, and to get to know each other before beginning junior high,” said Cleveland Principal Gabriel Sandoval.

The idea was inspired by Monroe Principal Brian Naughton, who wanted to build community and teach sportsmanship through soccer.

The schools want to plan more meet-ups in the future and feature other sports.

“My hope is we’ll be able to do this again and bring back the positive vibes to school,” said Martin Cook, assistant principal at Harding.