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Archive for Monday, January 11, 2010

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Transition time: West principal offers families suggestions on upcoming junior high enrollment

Sixth-grade students at Quail Run School prepare for a mock trial with the help from Kansas University law students in this 2009 file photo. Meetings for parents of sixth-grade students begin this week as enrollment kicks off.

Sixth-grade students at Quail Run School prepare for a mock trial with the help from Kansas University law students in this 2009 file photo. Meetings for parents of sixth-grade students begin this week as enrollment kicks off.

January 11, 2010

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The junior high jump

Meetings for parents of sixth-grade students going into junior high are as follows:

  • Tuesday: 6 p.m. at West Junior High, 2700 Harvard Road.
  • Wednesday: 6 p.m. at Central Junior High, 1400 Mass.
  • Wednesday: 5:45 p.m. at South Junior High, 2734 La.
  • Wednesday: 6 p.m. at Southwest Junior High, 2511 Inverness Drive

Science Fair informational meeting

The Lawrence school district will host a Science Fair Information Night from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive. Students, parents and others interested in learning more about the Douglas County Science Fair and Expo are welcome to view past projects and ask questions. For more information, contact Anne Hawks at ahawks@usd497.org.

This week, parents of sixth-graders in Lawrence will have the chance to find out what junior high is all about.

In meetings planned Tuesday and Wednesday at the city’s four junior highs — Central, South, Southwest and West — parents will receive enrollment information and be able to ask questions ahead of information sessions the kids will have in-school the following week.

We talked with Myron Melton, principal at West Junior High School, 2700 Harvard Road, about what parents and students should anticipate learning about the jump from elementary school into junior high.

What should parents expect at these meetings?

It’s our opportunity as schools to give parents an initial look at the enrollment possibilities for kids — what courses kids have access to, to give them a little bit of an explanation about elective courses in terms of what the course content is, what kids could expect from those courses. Some courses that we talk about will have certain criteria. They might have prerequisite things that might need to be taken ahead of time.

Q: How much flexibility do those students get in their schedules?

A: In a typical day, about half of a student’s day is going to made up of what we call required core classes, and about half the day is going to be made up of elective courses. So, they’re going to be taking somewhere between three and four elective courses in a day, if you’re working on a 45-minute schedule ... so it’s really important that the kids have a good idea about what those courses are going to entail — the difficulty of the courses, the content of the courses.

Q: What should students expect from their meetings about the move to junior high?

A: We will actually meet with them during the school day, and we’ll do a similar process with them. In addition to talking about what the courses entail and what to expect from those courses, we’ll talk a little bit more about the enrollment process and how they’ll be enrolling online for courses. And we’ll talk with them a little bit more about the significance of those choices.

Q: How should both parents and students prepare for these meetings?

A: In advance, there’s not a lot of preparation that needs to take place. However, following the meetings, I do think that it’s very important that parents and students sit down together and take some time to review the forms that come back (with them). ... Even though they’re only in junior high by this point, talking to students about ‘What are your interests in high school and beyond?’ (is crucial).

Q: What are some concerns or questions you are expecting to answer?

A: Sometimes there’s a question (like), ‘My child’s a sixth-grader and they’re assigned to one junior high, but putting in a transfer because we’d like to attend a different junior high ... where do I go and which school do I go to (for the meetings)?’ and when we start having these meetings, there haven’t been any determinations on transfers. So, we always encourage parents to go to the meeting at their current attendance area, the current junior high they’re assigned to. All the information at every junior high is the same — we share the same PowerPoints, we share the same information, the curriculum is the same ... if the transfer is approved, any information that we collect we just forward to that building.

Q: What’s the most important thing to consider as a parent when going over electives with your child?

A: No. 1 (is) gauging their interest in a particular content area. Because they’re going to be in the course for a semester and making sure it’s something that’s engaging to them, something they’re interested in, something that is going to pique their interest as they go into the semester, versus something that we’re going to force the students into taking.

Q: What kind of turnout do you expect for the parental enrollment meetings?

A: I can tell you this, there’s always a full-house for seventh grade because that’s such a new thing for them that we always have a full house. We usually have about half as many eighth- and ninth-grade parents because they are used to the system. But we obviously want to strongly encourage eighth- and ninth-grade parents to be involved in that process as well, because even though they are used to process of how it works, the decisions those kids are making are just as important and we’d like them to stay involved in that.

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