Sharon Middle School students will see younger students in the building when classes start Aug. 29.
The Early Childhood Center moved into the Mountain Street school’s first floor from the East Elementary School at the end of June, and ran programs in their new home this summer, Principal Kevin O’Rourke says.
The school and the center will interact, he says.
“We’ll develop some opportunities for our older kids to interact with their kids – to get down there and read with them, and to assist,” O’Rourke says.
“We haven’t worked out all the details yet, but there certainly will be some opportunities for middle school students to gain experience in working with little kids.”
The recent $47 million renovation and addition project included the early childhood space.
Only “mostly cosmetic” issues remain from the project, O’Rourke says.
The building was under construction primarily the past two years.
“It’s nice to not be relocating and not be anxious about what the site will look like right up until opening. We’re able to plan some events for the end of August and be sure that they’re going to happen.”
Laptop carts in classrooms are among the new technology infused in the school through the project.
Teachers and students began using it last year, O’Rourke says.
“But, I think one of the exciting things is, now that they’ve had it and played with it, how can they really make it enhance their instruction,” he says.
Each grade will focus on a skill this year, O’Rourke says: sixth, organizational skills; seventh, study skills; and eighth, research skills.
Continued work on culture and climate – “making the middle school a positive place to be for kids” – also is planned for this year, O’Rourke says.
School officials will “refine and make even better” activities held on the second day of class last year for the first time, he says.
“We spend a day building relationships, talking about the respectful community that we want Sharon Middle School to be, having some fun with everybody, working toward some of the school values that we want taking place in our school,” O’Rourke says.
Further developing the school’s advisory program is part of this.
“If kids at this level feel like they’re known and cared for and are connected to the adults here at the school, they will achieve much better,” O’Rourke says.
A school policy change from last year discourages students from wearing celebratory clothing to school. Gifts from bar and bat mitzvahs were the catalyst.
The situation became an issue over the past five to seven years, he says.
“When you hit our cafeteria on Monday, it becomes, ‘Who got invited, who didn’t?’” O’Rourke says.
O’Rourke says school officials plan to discuss this with local clergy and “see if we can build partnerships on that.”
School officials have received “positive feedback from a number of middle school parents that they’ve felt similarly, and it’s very dividing and exclusionary in a strong, visual way,” he says.