School News: Principal addresses sixth-grade move

Dolores Elementary Principal Sherri Maxwell, recently answered some questions about a plan to move the sixth grade into the elementary next year:

Where did this idea come from?

This idea came from many sources. As a school and district staff we have had many conversations about the fifth grade being ready, or not, for sixth grade. There are definitely challenges about where the sixth grade fits in: they are not quite ready for middle school yet too old for the elementary. We have also talked about student readiness for middle school. Concerns such as do they have the organizational skills to deal with multiple transitions (seven different teachers or classes)?

Are students ready to be exposed to more mature issues and social pressures?

The building project allowed us an opportunity to address these issues along with the overcrowding in the secondary schools.

What does research say about where sixth grade belongs?

Research says that sixth graders in middle school have more behavioral problems than their peers in elementary. Sixth-graders test scores tend to be higher when the sixth grade is part of the elementary school. Finally, middle school sixth-graders are exposed to older teens, which may have a negative influence on them. Behavior reports tend to escalate in severity once students enter middle school.

Will the sixth grade change what is taught?

Teachers teach the standards for that grade or subject area. This is not dependent on where the class is located. We are looking toward building an upper elementary (grades 5 and 6) program that better prepares students for middle and high school. We would like to incorporate the idea of "switching" classes for a limited amount of content: perhaps only for science and math. We will do our best to schedule our support classes so the sixth graders get a higher level of instructional support than they do now. We also plan on continuing the traditional sixth grade activities such as Science Fair and Night of the Notables. And, of course, the sixth grade will be eligible to take part in all middle school athletics and activities.

Finally, what will be done about bullying in the sixth-graders?

Although students will be in a transition year, all elementary policies and procedures will be in place, including our policy on bullying. Because students will be participating in sports, Mr. Lankford will be assisting with athletic discipline codes.

Next year we will continue our work to build a strong bridge between the elementary school and the middle school. Our next parent meeting is September 18 at 5:00! See you there. - Sherri Maxwell

Teacher appreciation week

It was Teacher Appreciation week and the staff at Dolores Schools sure did feel appreciated. First, there was a staff appreciation breakfast on Wednesday, followed by a lunch provided by the PTO. On Tuesday, the staff at Dolores Elementary wore scrubs in honor of Nurse Appreciation Day, to honor school nurse Kim Ackles, who will retire this year.

Hustle and bustle of final weeks

It was another week full of end-of-year activities. The Middle School/High School band and choir put on a beautiful concert on Tuesday. It was well attended, and Mrs. Hall did a marvelous job, she even allowed Principal Brandon Thurston and a few teachers to take part in the concert.

Catch last showing of 'Who's Crazy Now'

Don't miss the last showing of Who's Crazy Now? The students worked very hard on this production and it does not disappoint. It is fun, showcases our wonderfully talented students and provides lots and lots of laughs. Don't miss it!

Prom night wraps up with a movie

Prom was a wonderful affair this year. Students reported having a great time, and many of them boarded a bus after the event at midnight and headed over to the Fiesta Theatre in Cortez to watch the new Spider-Man movie. The trip was sponsored by the school as a safe, after-prom activity. Students had a blast and didn't return until 3:30 a.m. Wow.

Shannon Livick