When the school buses roll up to Glen Hills Middle School on Tuesday, Sept. 4, to begin the academic year, students will step off and head for one of the two schools that will operate in a single building.
The school district is emphasizing that although the schools share a building, they are separate.
"The question has come up as to how we can run two schools," said Larry Smalley, Glen Hills principal and Glendale-River Hills School District administrator. "But if we had grades four, five and six at Good Hope (a former school building), nobody would question it."
Glen Hills Middle School will now serve grades four through eight. With the fourth grade being transferred there from overcrowded Parkway Elementary School, officials are putting a special emphasis on creating two schools in one building, with seventh- and eighth-graders upstairs attending the junior high and the younger children downstairs in the intermediate school.
The two-schools-in-one concept brought about a new play structure designed for younger children, an additional computer lab, new bells that ring only for specific grades and measures to make the school more secure.
Each grade will have a separate lunch time and its own time in the library. The only time the young and old students will mix is on the school buses.
But James Beckmann, director of operations, foresees no problems with the big kids picking on the little kids.
"Eighth-graders don't pick on fourth-graders, they pick on seventh-graders," he chuckled. Not only that, but a list of discipline problems last year showed that the youngest students cause the most trouble on the bus, he said.
"You could see by the grades who had more write-ups and it was the lower grades," Beckmann said. He added that K-8 students all ride the same buses in the Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District without problems.
For children who are dropped off by their parents, the seventh- and eighth-graders will use the west doors and the younger children the east doors.
The Glen Hills lobby is now more secure, with a new wall that keeps visitors in the vestibule.
"They can get no farther than the vestibule, and there will be someone to greet them and buzz them in," Beckmann said. "The front vestibule has become very secure."
'Grown-up' benefits provided
Taking primary responsibility for the intermediate school is Haydee Smith, new assistant principal. Although she will spend most of her time as administrator of the intermediate school at Glen Hills, she also will assist the district administrator.
While some parents of fourth-graders were worried about their young children going into a middle-school environment, the students will enjoy benefits they would not have if they had stayed at Parkway Elementary, Smalley said. Gym periods will be 44 minutes long instead of 30; there will be more allied arts time and more time for math and language arts. Officials hope to have a fourth-grade band or orchestra soon, Smalley said.
"I think they're going to love the pool, the size of the gym, wood shop, tech ed with pottery shop and kiln, and feeling a little more grownup," Beckmann said. They even will get to do some computer-aided design, he said.
The fourth grade was moved to Glen Hills because of overcrowding at Parkway. The school was designed for 550 students and 580 were enrolled there last year, Smalley said.
Meanwhile, Glen Hills is designed for 800 students and is expecting 530 students this fall, including 100 or so fourth-graders, he said.
Another project that has been part of the summer work is installing an elevator at Glen Hills. The Glendale Senior Citizen Club raised the $165,000 for the elevator, which should be operational sometime in October, Beckmann said. Handicapped students must currently use a freight elevator.
Lunchtime ambience at NHS
To the east of Glen Hills is Nicolet High School, where students will see a revamped cafeteria when they return to class. The renovation, which cost more than $410,000, includes a new and brighter décor and round tables to replace long, rectangular ones. A portion of the room will even have booths.
"It's a total transformation," said Brien Reiels, facilities director. He predicted students will like the booth seating.
"And it will be a huge asset for the community," because the area can be rented out, Reiels said.
School officials feel the cafeteria has been elevated to something special. Uihlein Wilson architects designed the cafeteria space to harmonize floor, ceiling and walls in earth tones. A bright blue Nicolet Knights stripe rolls along the ceiling.
Additionally, the cafeteria was expanded into the atrium. The brick walls and wooden benches were removed.
New cafeteria lights are on motion sensors. The lighting is more energy-efficient, with fewer bulbs being needed and the capability of dimming or turning off when the cafeteria is not in use.
Jane Ford-Stewart can be reached at email@example.com or (262) 446-6607.
AT A GLANCE
FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL:Tuesday, Sept. 4, for Nicolet
High School, Glen Hills Middle School and Parkway Elementary School students,
except for junior
kindergartners, who start Tuesday, Sept. 11
SCHOOL HOURS: 7:25 a.m. to 2:23 p.m. at Nicolet; 7:45 a.m. to 2:55 p.m. at Glen Hills; 9 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. at Parkway; kindergartners will attend from 9 to 11:45 a.m. or from 12:50 to 3:35 p.m.
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