HOUGHTON -After vacant months, the halls at Houghton Middle School were filled with the sounds of locker dials whirring and feet stamping out in search of landmarks.
It was Camp Middle School, the annual introductory session for sixth graders coming in from elementary school.
Science teacher Bruce Belmas helped students navigate the byzantine steps for unlocking the locker.
"If you're off by a little bit, sometimes that's all it takes," he advised one student.
Elsewhere, students learned about their schedules and signed up for school e-mail accounts. Parents also got their own tour.
Math teacher Christine Marttila sent students off on scavenger hunts to track down answers to questions such as "What class will you have in room 110?" or "What's the official name of the library?"
Student Megan Abramson's highlights were the new gym and the music room.
"I think it's a good opportunity to learn, since the middle school is new, and to get familiar with the area," she said.
Sometimes, they hit dead ends. But they left room for discoveries, such as the pencil machine in the hall, a room with a green screen or the detailed trompe l'eoil artwork in the multipurpose room.
"It's so cool," Abramson said.
Lunch aide Shelby Turnquist gave Abramson and Sarah Peng the history of the artwork, created by students several years ago along one side of the room. If they get into art, Turnquist said, maybe the students can be the ones to fill in the rest.
Abramson was happy with how the day had gone, though she was still having trouble with the locker.
"I know they'll be forgiving if I'm late for class," she said.
Before they left the multipurpose room, Turnquist gave them some help on question 7: "The Multi-Purpose Room is where you will have your lunch. What is located on either side of the doorway outside the lunch room?"
As it turns out, vending machines.
If the students couldn't track down everything on the scavenger hunt immediately, Turnquist said, they shouldn't worry about it.
"You know what, a week into it you'll feel like you've been there forever," she said.