Wilson, which previously offered a lottery-based option for a limited number of students wanting to make the early transition to middle school, made major adjustments to accommodate for the changes, Principal Richard Lucas said.
“We’re using almost every room we have now because we have added four new classes,” Lucas said, adding that the expansion included four new sixth-grade teachers, along with enough extra workload for one full-time physical education instructor.
The extra students haven’t created a problem for the school, although they have brought it to capacity, he said.
“If we were to add another class, then it would be a problem,” he said.
Although most elementary schools in Glendale have students from kindergarten through sixth grade, middle schools starting at the sixth-grade level are common in other school districts throughout the country.
An early start in middle school, Lucas said, can give students an early advantage.
“These kids end up starting earlier and end up becoming the leaders of the class because they have the experience,” Lucas said.
While Lucas said the changes haven’t made a difference academically, Wilson students say the dynamic at the school is different.
“The school seems a lot more crowded,” Allina said. “It’s kind of annoying. To me they’re like little kids. It’s weird to think I was one of them.”
Another eighth-grader, 13-year-old Perdita Paria, said she was also bothered by the crowded halls, but said the early start at middle school was an important opportunity, which she and Allina were able to experience through Wilson’s sixth-grade lottery.
“We started off easy, so that helped us to get settled into the school,” Perdita said. “It was like baby steps.”
New sixth-graders said they were happy and ready for the change in schools.
“I don’t like it when teachers have to walk me around,” said 11-year-old Sevade Nazari, referring to a standard organizational procedure in elementary schools. “They line you up and they walk you everywhere.”
Sevana Stepanian, 11, said she liked the challenge of being placed in classes based on her skills.
“You don’t have to be held back if you’re better than some other people,” Sevana said.
But Sevade pointed out that being the youngest group at the school has its drawbacks.
“There are a lot of bullies here,” he said.
ZAIN SHAUK covers education. He may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at email@example.com.