AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – Aiken school leaders approved converting Aiken Middle into an intermediate school.
Aiken County is modeling the single-grade school after CrossRoads Intermediate School in Lexington, County.
“Parents want what’s best for their child,” said a parent at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.
Strong opinions and strong words were shared by many parents and former educators about a single-grade concept school.
“6th graders need to be with 7th and 8th graders,” said George Rogers, a former Principal Kennedy Middle School.
Still, school leaders passed re-configuring Aiken Middle into an intermediate school – strictly for 6th graders.
Students will attend Aiken Middle for a year, before splitting off to either Kennedy or Schofield Middle for 7th and 8th grade.
So what are the advantages of a single-grade academy?
“We feel that it benefits the students, that’s number one on our list.” Principal Jesse Hutchinson of CrossRoadS Intermediate School Lexington-Richland 5 said. “But also there’s benefit in this model for our parents, also for our faculty, for our teachers who teach in this environment, and for the community as a whole.”
The intermediate concept eases the transition from elementary learning to secondary learning. So students can build the right foundation and skills to succeed.
“Managing their time, learning how to be in classes with students that maybe they haven’t been in.” Hutchinson told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “They learn how to socialize, meet new people, and learn how to work together.”
- Academically: programs are designed specifically to fit the needs of 11 and 12-year-olds.
- Socially: the single-grade school enables students to participate in activities without the influence of older students.
- Emotionally: it cultivates an environment that focuses on building confidence.
The biggest advantage of the intermediate school is the relief it will provide to overcrowded middle schools in Aiken County.
Still, some parents aren’t convinced.
“The over-arching question is whether or not the benefits, outweigh the transportation issues that have been noted at length.” A parent said.
According to the district, transportation for the intermediate school hasn’t been finalized. School leaders have proposed having the intermediate students bussed to school with the elementary school students.
The all sixth-grade school will start classes in fall of 2019.