In August of 2019, Park Hill School District will open a fourth middle school. While they haven’t chosen a name yet, this new middle school is going to eliminate the sixth grade center concept.
Isaac Henn, junior, said, “By getting rid of the ‘Sixth Grade Center’, it may make it harder for kids to transition into middle school.”
The Sixth Grade Center allows students to be at an upper level school but with only sixth graders. They are introduced to a larger building with more students, lockers and multiple teachers. The idea is that it is less overwhelming since everyone is new at it together.
Emma Clark, freshman, said, “I loved the Sixth Grade Center because it was a great experience to meet so many new people. I’ve heard it is very overcrowded, though, so maybe it is for the best that it is eliminated.”
Meeting people who will go to Park Hill High School seems to be a common theme that students liked about the Sixth Grade Center.
Christina Buckmaster, senior, said, “It makes me sad to think that people won’t be able to make those relationships with the students from Park Hill.”
Change is hard for people sometimes–not only for students, but also for teachers.
John Morrison, aka Mr. Mo, teacher at Plaza, said, “I absolutely hate that Plaza Middle School is going away. I have three kids of my own now and to know that my kids aren’t going to come through Plaza makes me sick.”
Mr. Mo expressed how much he loved teaching at the Sixth Grade Center.
He said, “It didn’t take long for me to realize how special Plaza Middle School was. The sixth grade center gave kids a safe, comfortable place to figure out just who they really are.”
On the other hand, there are some benefits to merging the sixth graders with the seventh and eighth graders in one building. Missy DeDonder, Assistant Principal at Congress Middle School, is part of the Middle School Transition Committee.
DeDonder said, “By going to buildings of 6, 7, 8 it takes away one of the transitions for kids, meaning they don’t have to change from elementary to sixth grade to seventh/eighth. This is a positive for students, especially those that don’t adapt well to new situations.”
Park Hill Administrators are working very hard to ensure that the transition is smooth and a positive experience for everyone.
DeDonder went on to say, “We have found a new program through the Boomerang Project called WEB. WEB stands for Where Everyone Belongs and provides an outline for eighth grade mentors to work with sixth graders on a monthly basis doing a variety of activities to increase their ownership in the building and decrease bullying.”
The new middle school has already broken ground on 47.9 acres of land that the district purchased at 56th Street and N. Northwood Road. For the most current information, like the timeline for the naming of the new middle school and new boundaries, keep checking the district webpage.