Middle school students adjust to classes in Shawnee High School

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Shawnee Middle School is now part of Shawnee High School.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A new middle school means new classes for students in the Clark-Shawnee Local School District.

Seventh and eighth-grade students used to attend the district’s three local primary schools. But this year the district decided to give middle school students their own wing in the high school.

“There are a lot of new academic opportunities, which is really exciting,” Shawnee Middle School Principal Amanda Ike said. “We had not been able to offer those before but now we offer things like engineering, a dissection course and a debate class.”

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Now, instead of the classes being split, they are all in one place and the district can offer a variety of courses to them.

“The transition has been great,” Ike said. “Getting the students used to a new routine and the students have done a great job. I have a great staff and they have done a great job taking care of the students and making sure they know where they’re going.”

The move to the high school was questioned by some parents. Ike said some parents worried their 12- or 13-year-old child would be too close to older and more mature high school students. The two groups of kids have kept their distance so far, she said.

“They have been very separate in the building,” Ike said. “There has been very little interaction. Certainly, they can pass each other in the hallways at times but the middle school is in the upstairs hallway on the other end so there isn’t a need for them to be together.”

The change is a good one, said Sue Calland, a long-time Possum and now Shawnee Middle School teacher.

“It’s taken some getting used to but as far as the opportunities for the kids, it’s phenomenal,” she said.

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Calland was teaching a dissection course with seventh and eighth graders last week. Before, there weren’t enough kids in one spot interested in the course to offer it. But now that all the middle school students are together, there are enough students to justify the class.

Students learn not only how to cut open an organism in the class, but through that experience, they learn the names of body parts, what each organ does and how it functions.

“We couldn’t do this before because we had three separate schools, not enough kids, not enough interest and not enough teachers,” Calland said. “I think it’s phenomenal.”

Giving kids more choices will help them as they further their education, Ike said.

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“Exposure to different content areas, having exposure to engineering before you get into high school, it helps you think about what courses you want to take in high school,” she said. “It helps you think about what electives you want to take and learn more about.”

Calland also said she enjoys having teachers around her that teach her subject so she can work with them to better educate her students.

“I have never had another science teacher who teaches my grade but now I have a high school teacher, an eighth-grade teacher, right here so there is a lot more collaboration available,” she said.

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