Halls bustling after MSS adds Grade 8s
The halls at Merritt Secondary School are about 65 students busier since adding Grade 8 classes, says Nicola-Similkameen School District 58 Superintendent Bob Peacock.
After SD 58 trustees voted in April to close Coquihalla Middle School at the end of the last school year in June, Grade 7 students at the time knew they would be entering high school earlier than expected.
Two weeks after the first morning bell of the school year rang, students, faculty and administration are beginning to get an idea of the results of April’s decision.
“The closure and the move to the school worked very well,” said SD 58 Superintendent Bob Peacock at the district’s first board meeting of the year on Wednesday.
“There was a bit of a hum [at MSS] on the first day.
“Because of all those new students at the school, there were lots of people walking around with smiles on their faces.”
The trustees said administration needed to find a way to keep the middle school “team environment” when making the decision to close CMS. MSS now has about 675 students.
According to Assistant Superintendent Steve McNiven, faculty is still developing team initiatives he’s calling “middle years support.”
“We went around and spoke to Grade 7 classes and we concentrated on speaking with the high school on work they are doing in teams,” he said.
“It was very positive with the collaboration that has started to take place around those middle years and that is what we’ve been focusing on.”
Discussions with students and faculty about transitioning into high school have been productive, he added, and MSS has developed a team of Grade 8 teachers and Grade 9 teachers.
“Many of my conversations with teachers have been about how they are adjusting being in their new setting,” McNiven said. “Most of the comments were very positive.”
As for what happens with the former CMS building, Peacock said the district is in talks with a group looking to lease the facility.
An announcement is expected within the next several weeks.
CMS was closed in June as a response to a Ministry of Education funding protection cut by 1.5 percentage point per year if enrolment declines.
SD 58 was further challenged by the Ministry’s decision to only cover costs to the equivalent of each course, rather than each student.