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Archive for Thursday, August 18, 2011

First Bell: New middle school name rings true; principal unfazed by freshmen; traffic flow changes to be tested at South

August 18, 2011

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Julie Rea, receptionist at South Middle School, smiles when she answers the phone an estimated 200 times a day.

Julie Rea, receptionist at South Middle School, smiles when she answers the phone an estimated 200 times a day.

A message on Julie Rea's phone helps her stay on message at South Middle School.

A message on Julie Rea's phone helps her stay on message at South Middle School.

Some news and notes from education circles here in Lawrence...

So you think it’s difficult getting used to the idea of ninth-graders on high school campuses, or sixth-graders in middle schools, or elementary schools ending at fifth grade.

Try sitting in Julie Rea’s chair — or, more to the point, answering her calls.

Eight years ago Rea started answering phones at South Junior High School, and even though she’s still behind the came desk, the school’s name change to South Middle School this summer has prompted a change in her familiar greeting.

After some 200 calls a day, 213 days a year — that’s 42,600 greetings, my calculator tells me — Rea affixed a reminder message on her phone, to help prevent her from slipping up.

“It is different,” she said calmly, before answering yet another call — South Middle School. May I help you? — Wednesday afternoon in the office.

•••

I’m wondering how folks are adjusting both to the idea, and the new reality, of ninth-graders enrolled at Free State and Lawrence high schools.

Lawrence High Principal Matt Brungardt, for one, doesn’t appear fazed that his campus is welcoming freshmen for the first time in its 57-year history. The former Liberty Memorial High School apparently didn’t make room for ninth-graders back in the day, either.

Times change, it seems, and students, staff and teachers are ready to embrace the four-year system that has been in place elsewhere for some time now.

“We’re sitting around going, ‘Freshmen!?’ and everybody else is going, ‘You haven’t been educating freshmen!?’ ” Brungardt said this week, acknowledging the historic nature of the change locally but emphasizing the lack of interest virtually anywhere else. “The whole rest of the world has been doing this. Everybody has been doing this. It’s not like we’re on the cutting-edge.”

•••

Myrone Grady, school resource officer, and Lynn Harrod, assistant principal, monitor students as they head to buses in the parking lot at South Middle School.

Myrone Grady, school resource officer, and Lynn Harrod, assistant principal, monitor students as they head to buses in the parking lot at South Middle School.

Wednesday’s orientation sessions at South Middle School offered more than chances for new sixth- and seventh-graders to see their educational home for 2011-12.

A new traffic-flow system also was in full effect.

The district spent $18,000 this summer to install a new “cross through” between the parking lots at South and Broken Arrow School next door. The district also made the south access point for the Broken Arrow lot an “exit only,” a move designed to ease traffic congestion.

Lynn Harrod, assistant principal at South, expects the new system to work well, at least once everyone becomes familiar with the new setup.

“Today it’s worked extremely well,” Harrod said, as students climbed aboard idling buses. “I want to see what we have with a full population.

“As all parents get educated with the system — the new flow — it should move smoothly.”

Comments

bornon7 2 years, 8 months ago

I went to school 30 years ago, and my senior year we added freshman. Kids didn't care. Seems parents make a bigger deal of it....Lawrence is catching up,,,,decades later....

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Curtis Lange 2 years, 8 months ago

lol, you're kidding right? Lawrence has finally caught up with the rest of the country in the middle/high school grade alignment after being stuck in the dark ages...there is no 'advancing too soon' taking place here.

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shadowlady 2 years, 8 months ago

Last year I went to pick up a grandchild at Central Jr High, school let out, and I was watching for my grandchild to come out of the school building, when I spot this girl and boy standing looking at each other, and what do I see, the girl pretending to do a sexual act, right there in front of students coming out of the building and the parents that are there to pick up their children. This girl looked like she might have been a in the 8th grade. I was absolutely appalled. What are the parents letting their kids do or are they even keeping track of them, or do they even care, AND where was an adult to take that girl back into the school to the Principles office. Now we 11, 12, 13 age KIDs going to school what are these young kids going to learn next?? This is very sad, our youth is being advanced to soon in some things. Where is it going to end??

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sugarmagnolia 2 years, 8 months ago

"Wednesday’s orientation sessions at South Junior High"... funny that just earlier in the article they were talking about how it's now South Middle School not Junior High....

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