West Branch is pleased to share that we have been approved to provide a Middle School Concept starting with the 2019 – 2020 school year.
First and foremost, we would like to share our purpose in moving to the middle school concept. This is not about finances or staffing or facilities but rather a change that will better provide for a group of students during a very important time in their lives. As quoted by Thomas Armstrong in his book Best Schools, the middle school concept represents “an educational movement framed around recognition that young adolescents are not simply older elementary students nor younger high school students, but rather that there are dramatic changes that occur during this time of life requiring a radically different and unique approach to education”.
So what does this mean for those students in grades 5 – 8 and what changes will occur to implement a middle school concept. Following is a list of some of the more key points:
1. Middle school students (Grades 5 – 8) will not be mixed with high school students (Grades 9-12) while in the building for general classes. Exceptions to this structure would be advanced placement and possibly music performance groups (band and chorus). We plan to use a staggered bell schedule to avoid mixing.
2. Middle school classrooms will be located in a designated area of the building for the most part. We will be installing new doors to divide the middle school from the high school and keep students separated. Shared areas will be the auditorium, library and cafeteria but students will be using these areas at different times.
3. All middle school students will continue to take the same core subjects – reading, writing, math, science and social studies. We plan to develop new courses around health, social development and study skills that are unique to this age group and blend them with our other electives – art, music, physical education, and technology.
4. Activities and clubs will be developed for middle school students that are separate from the elementary and high school, giving this age group the opportunity to grow and explore their talents and interests. Athletics will continue to comply with all PIAA Regulations.
5. Any transportation changes will not include having 5th and 6th graders arriving to school at 7:00 am each day. Ideally, we would like to see all middle and high school students start the school day later and are exploring those options.
After the first of the year, we will hold parent meetings to provide further details and answer questions. We are committed to keeping families updated as we move through our period of transition. We are excited about this new educational opportunity.