Archive for Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Some changes on tap as students move to new school

November 15, 2006

Editor's note: Darren Neas, assistant principal of Tonganoxie Junior High School, has compiled a list of questions and answers regarding the new middle school. With his permission, Neas' information, which appeared in the October and November editions of the school district's newsletter, is shown below:

Q: I keep hearing the term Middle School. Is the name changing?

A: Yes. The current seventh- to ninth-grade configuration was given a Junior High label as was historically the case with schools of that design. The new school will be a true "middle level" building. Thus, the new name will be Tonganoxie Middle School (TMS). Incidentally, the mascot will remain the same, Warriors.

Q: Why are we moving at semester?

A: There are, of course, pros and cons for making the move midway through the year. In our case, the pros clearly win. Construction was necessary in order to accommodate the enrollment growth in our district. This factor has not changed. The elementary is literally busting at the seams. It makes little sense to have brand new facilities sitting vacant for six months.

Q: Will transportation for my child change? I've heard buses will no longer run by my house or neighborhood.

A: Busing and transportation top the list of questions currently being asked. These issues are still being discussed. A special transportation section will be developed to answer these important questions.

Q: Will school begin and end at the same time as it does now?

A: No. Mainly because of busing, a new schedule for each school has been developed. This schedule is:

  • High school, 7:55 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.
  • Elementary school, 8:10 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.
  • Middle school, 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Q: How will the move affect my child's current class schedule?

A: Other than the change in start and stop time and the location of the classes, their schedule will not change. They will have the same classes, taught by the same teachers as is being done this first semester.

Q: When can we tour the new building? Will there be an open house?

A: The public is invited to tour the new middle school from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 20.

Q: We like the PRIDE program and the clubs and classes currently available at the junior high. Will these continue, and will fifth- and sixth-graders be allowed to participate?

A: They will continue and we anticipate them to grow in their scope and choice. Some clubs will allow only certain grade levels. Some will mix all four. It will always, however, be a parental decision as to what is acceptable for their child.

Q: How early may I drop off my child in the morning?

A: Supervision begins at 7:45 a.m. Prior to that, there is no expectation of teachers or administrators on staff to watch kids.

Q: What about picking students up after school?

A: Unless students are involved in an after-school club, class, sport or teacher supervised activity, they are to exit the building and school grounds in a timely and efficient manner.

Q: My child needs academic help. What is the protocol for coming early or staying after?

A: Teachers are very accommodating with regard to this. Students may make arrangements with teachers for this type of assistance. After-school study table also will be available from 3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

Q: My eighth-grade son is 14 and of legal age to drive. Will he be allowed to do so?

A: No.

Q: Will students in the fifth grade and sixth grade be allowed to attend school dances?

A: No. School dances will change in several regards, even for seventh- and eighth-graders. Those details are currently under discussion. One thing we do know is that fifth- and sixth-grade students will not be allowed at the dances.

Q: Will there be any social functions for fifth- and sixth-graders?

A: Yes. We will organize a group of kids to discuss the possibilities of having special events, such as skating parties, things like that.

Q: Will students in fifth and sixth grade continue to have recess time when they move to the new building?

A: For the remainder of this school year, nothing will change in regard to recess.

Q: Will busing change for my child?

A: The December newsletter will be dedicated to any and all busing questions as well as drop-off and pick-up protocol at the new building.

Q: I have heard lunch times are changing. How will this affect my child? What about snacks or ala carte items?

A: One exciting change is that meals will be prepared on campus. We will have a fully functioning kitchen. This lends itself to many new possibilities. Students will eat in order: fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades, in 25-minute intervals, starting about 11 a.m. Students will eat only with their grade level. Snack items will be available for purchase. Parents must sign a "snack charge" approval sheet to do so. Students will use the same lunch card they currently have, and that system will not change.

Q: I hear a lot about this PRIDE program: What is it? Will fifth- and sixth-graders participate in it this year?

A: PRIDE is a tremendous program that rewards students for academics, attitudes and actions. This will continue for seventh and eighth grades as always. For the remainder of this year, fifth- and sixth-graders will continue the AAA program as established by the elementary school. Next year all grade levels with participate in the PRIDE program.

Q: Will the PRIDE program continue for ninth-graders after the move? Are they allowed to attend Night of the Stars at the end of the year?

A: Yes to both questions. FYI - the high school is also developing a similar program. Be on the lookout for more information from them as this effort progresses.

Q: Are fifth- or sixth-graders allowed to participate in after-school sports?

A: No. Competitive sports, through the state activities association, only allow participation for seventh through 12th grades. There will be other opportunities, however, for after-school activities through our clubs and classes. The Tonganoxie Recreation Commission does a wonderful job in offering athletic opportunities for the lower grade levels.

Q; I've heard students will be together for physical education. What are the particulars with regard to students and PE?

A: Due to scheduling conflicts, yes, there will be some sharing of the gym. The gym however, is designed to hold three full PE classes. Teachers will work together to create dividing lines. The mixing of grade levels to play games will not occur. New scheduling for next year will allow for a more complete separation of grades, and this will not be an issue.

Q: Will the student handbook change with regard to rules and regulations as it pertains to fifth- and sixth-graders entering this middle level facility?

A: There will be some minimal changes in rules and regulations for everyone entering the new school. A new handbook is being developed and will be given to all students at their orientation day prior to the move.

Q: When is this orientation day?

A: Orientation will be: Dec. 13 for fifth and sixth grade, and Dec. 14 for seventh and eighth grades. Students will travel to the new building. They will bring all of their school supplies from the old building to the new. Fifth-graders will be shown their new room and given instructions as to where their supplies go. Students in sixth grade through eighth grade will get lockers. All students will be taken on a tour and given information as to proper procedures for the day-to-day operation of school.

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