listónew schools, new perspectives, new ideas
wants to know how you would design the new school
24, 2000] Itís
been a long time since Lincoln has been able to look forward to the
prospect of a new school building. The possibility of two new
buildings, which would replace the existing Central Elementary
School and Lincoln Junior High School, was approved this month by
the District 27 school board. This is a once-in-a-lifetime
phenomenon. Now that the board has made its decision and is
preparing plans to secure state financial support; teachers, parents
and administrators are beginning to think about what the new schools
few hurdles may lie aheadóthe state must approve the planóbut it
isnít too soon to consider the possibilities for the new schools.
junior high schools began to emerge on the American educational scene
a half-century ago, many, like Lincolnís were housed in former high
school buildings. They were seen as "junior" high schools,
and their curricula, programs and physical layouts very much resembled
the high schools whose facilities they came to occupy.
the past 20 years, the middle school movement has risen along with the
construction of facilities especially designed for the age group that
in many ways is unlike the younger grade schoolers and also different
from the older high schoolers. Some middle schools include fifth
through eighth graders; others are for sixth through eighth or even
sixth through ninth graders.
idea behind the middle school is that youngsters in the middle grades
benefit from programs that are matched to their developmental stage.
The National Middle School Association (www.nmsa.org),
organized in 1973, supports the evolution of the middle school
concept. NMSA now has members in every state and in 50 countries.
middle school movement has been especially strong in the Midwest, and
in small and mid-sized communities. With its national headquarters in
Westerville, Ohio, NMSA has an Illinois affiliate in Champaign ó www.cprd.uiuc.edu/aims.
Middle school advocates speak to the particular educational needs of
what they call "young adolescents," 10- to 15-year-olds. The
Association of Illinois Middle-Level Schools focuses on fifth through
(To top of second
27 school board members have yet to determine whether one of its new
buildings will follow the middle school concept or will be a junior
high school in a new building. But teachers, parents, administrators
and the school board will surely be discussing what a school for
adolescents should include.
all middle school experts agree on what constitutes an ideal middle
school, but searching for the right formula is part of the fun. Every
adult remembers his own early adolescence, and those memories inform
their opinions about what youngsters in that special age bracket most
need in their schools. Every parent of a fifth through eighth grader
is vividly aware that this is a time of great change.
Lincoln Daily News would like to know "Where You Stand"
on this issue. We want to hear from parents, teachers, students and,
in fact, all readers who have ideas about the nature of schooling for
the middle grades. Specifically, what should District 27 include in
their plans for a new school for the middle grades? Activity centers?
Security concerns? Technology? Science labs? Outdoor spaces? Where
should the library be located? Or should it be a media center? Access
for the handicapped? How many gyms? How about a garden? Planetarium?
Can a school seem "homey"? Where do teachers do their
planning? Air conditioning? Lockers in a commons area or in the
hallways? Where do kids charge their laptops? Lots of windows, or no
distractions? Creative places to display student art? Will industrial
arts make a comeback? How about home economics?
Lincoln, letís dream a little. It isnít every day that we can look
forward to two new school buildings. So, email us firstname.lastname@example.org
and let us know what you are thinking.