Aug. 19—Sixth graders in the Manhattan-Ogden school district started the 2021-22 school year Wednesday in middle school, a new structure for the district.
Instead of sixth-grade students remaining in elementary school like previous years, USD 383 recently expanded the middle schools to accommodate sixth graders going to school with seventh- and eighth-graders.
Eisenhower Middle School principal Tracy Newell said there's been "a lot more planning" involved to get sixth-grade students immersed in middle school life, but he said "once we figure out where the kinks are" the transition will work smoothly.
"We always have some bugs we've got to fix (on the first day)," Newell said. "I think it's going to be a great year with the sixth grade here."
Newell said Eisenhower Middle School staff hosted an open house Tuesday evening for families to visit the school, get a tour of the building, and for students to find their classrooms and lockers. Newell said he felt the open house "helped a lot" in putting some parents and students at ease as they transition out of elementary school.
"I don't like to use the word 'kids' to describe them. They're adolescents," Newell said. "They're in transition between childhood and adulthood, there are lots of changes going on, and we want to nurture that."
Anthony Middle School principal Vickie Kline said her school has 247 students in sixth grade, 240 in seventh grade, and 248 in eighth grade. Newell did not have the numbers of sixth graders at press time. Kline said she talked to a couple of sixth-grade students who already liked their teachers.
"Don't forget, we're coming off a year of learning in the pandemic," Kline said. "A year ago, we weren't starting the same way, we had students learning remotely and not in the building."
The rest of the week will be dedicated to acclimating students to the new lunch schedules and the schools they will be learning in for the next two years.
"I was able to get around to the different grade levels, and the kids seemed to be excited to be in school, in person," Kline said. "They were smiling behind their masks."