Archive for Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lawrence middle schools welcome seventh-graders as ‘middle’ students

View an audio slideshow of images from the first day of school at Prairie Park and Cordley elementaries.

August 17, 2011


Anton Bratton, seventh-grader at South Middle School.

Anton Bratton, seventh-grader at South Middle School.

Cameron Stussie, seventh-grader at South Middle School.

Cameron Stussie, seventh-grader at South Middle School.

Kansas Gibler, seventh-grader at South Middle School.

Kansas Gibler, seventh-grader at South Middle School.

Anton Bratton cracks a grin, confident he’s not the youngest guy in school.

Cameron Stussie’s got his own digits down — having already memorized his locker number, location and combination.

And Kansas Gibler? The seventh-grader managed to shake off her jitters, moving from door to overhead-glass door at South Middle School.

“Since it’s the first day, I’ve been kind of nervous,” Kansas said, clutching her printed schedule Wednesday afternoon. “I was just in the wrong classroom — but that’s my next class. I was supposed to be across the hall.”

Such sentiments and minor stumbles weren’t all that uncommon Wednesday, even if the students’ collective standing in the Cougars’ pecking order certainly was.

The 196 seventh-graders who participated in orientation at South — plus hundreds of others enrolled at Liberty Memorial Central, Southwest and West — literally are putting the “middle” in middle schools this year.

With the Lawrence school district’s four former junior highs having switched from a 7-8-9 format to the new 6-7-8 configuration, Kansas and her classmates aren’t the same “sevies” as their predecessors. No need to fear being the youngest in the school, or being intimidated by roaming the halls with students two classes their senior.

They’re squarely in the middle, taking over a hall previously reserved for eighth-graders.

“It’s cool,” said Cameron, who finds the middle position comfortable. “I know some people in eighth grade and some people in sixth grade, so I can kind of help out the sixth-graders and let the eighth-graders help me out a little.”

Still, he said, “it’s better than being at the bottom — a lot better.”

All students in middle school have plenty to learn, both in academics and about themselves, said Will Fernandez, principal at South. Seventh-graders, beginning this year, just happen to be “in the middle” at South and elsewhere in a district full of changes.

“They’re adolescents,” Fernandez said. “They’re right in the middle of role confusion. They don’t know what they want to do. They don’t know what they’re going to be. …

“They are in the middle, so how they act and how they react is still to be determined. This is all brand new.”

Anton, for one, is taking the transition from Broken Arrow School next door in stride. He just turned 12 on Saturday and is relieved not to be the youngest guy on campus.

“It’s better than being a sixth-grader,” he said, admitting that he’s struggling a bit remembering his locker combination. “It kind of feels like it’s easier — not easier, but more fun.”

Anton and his classmates spent Wednesday learning about the school’s operations, history and traditions.

They’ll be starting actual class Thursday, joining all other students in the district.


noneofyourbuisness 6 years, 8 months ago

I find it funny that the slide show has nothing to do with the artical.

boxers_or_briefs 6 years, 8 months ago

I find it funny that "business" is spelled wrong in your name and "article" is spelled wrong in your comment.

Ewok79 6 years, 8 months ago

The spelling police strikes again, LOL

KS 6 years, 8 months ago

The kids in the lead picture seem to be quite younger than 7th grade too. Good ole LJW reporting.

overthemoon 6 years, 8 months ago

I get the sense that the LJW online is operating with a skeleton crew and few if any editorial reviews. But its award winning.

Lawrence_Pilot 6 years, 8 months ago

Funny, I don't remember welcoming 7th graders when I was an 8th or 9th grader at Central. Just the opposite. Of course, we called them Junior Highs in those days, not Middle Schools.

Tim Quest 6 years, 8 months ago

And you tied an onion to your belt, which was the style at the time.

Elaine Elliott 6 years, 8 months ago

A Junior High is 7-9th grade a Middle School is 6-8th grade. That's why you called them by different names because they were different things. Those 7th graders are new to that school as well as the 6th graders. So it makes sense to welcome them.

ljwhirled 6 years, 8 months ago

Of all the things I would never want to do again, middle school is at the top of the list.

I'd rather go back through boot camp.

Bailey Perkins 6 years, 8 months ago

Compared to other schools, what is considered 'Middle School'? I entered that realm of schooling in 5th grade.

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