Northport sixth graders to get hybrid education
Dan Stowe, assistant principal, calls the new program a “hybrid,” saying it puts students in a standard elementary classroom while giving them a taste of middle school by having them rotate classrooms for science, English and Spanish.
“That will give them some experience transitioning — seeing new teachers and seeing new faces — as well as having the traditional look of a sixth-grade classroom,” Stowe said.
“This gives kids more of an opportunity to have really strong teachers who get to know their students and break them into moving from room to room,” he said.
Northport elementary school is made up of grades K-6, middle school grades 7 and 8, and high school grades 9-12. Last year the school began using a middle school concept, Stowe said. Programs for middle-schoolers are designed to address the unique developmental needs of early adolescents 11 to 14 years old.
“We’re a small school and we can do a lot of unique things and if they work out it’s a victory,” Stowe said. “If not, that’s OK, too.”
For high school students, an advanced literature class has been added to their choices. Last fall the school began offering advanced placement (AP) biology and for the second term calculus was added.
The classes have been very popular, said Tom Wetherbee, president of the Northport Board of Education.
With the No Child Left Behind federal legislation there may be more of an emphasis on students that are lagging, with school officials sometimes losing track of its advanced students, Wetherbee said. The AP classes also help them get ready for college, he said.
“We’ve had a lot of students in the last 10 years or so heading off to some pretty good schools and have done well, so it’s nice to give them a running start – a head start,” Wetherbee said.
Northport has a projected enrollment of 169 students, said Superintendent Jeff Tropf. It is up from last February’s numbers, which showed the school had 152 students. There may be even more students when classes actually start on Tuesday, Tropf said, as he’s been busy giving school tours to families that have moved into the area and to families from outside the district who may sign up as Schools of Choice students.
And many of those students will have a new iPad for homework. The school recently was informed that it will receive $15,880 in 2 percent funding from the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. The money is earmarked for elementary technology upgrades and for iPads, which cost about $500 each, Tropf said. All elementary students have a rotation of special classes that include art, music, physical education, foreign language and technology.
Last year the school provided laptop computers for every student in grades 6-12. Students are assigned a laptop at the beginning of the school year that they will use while in school and can take home with them to do assignments.
The district has one new teacher this year, Alexia Post, who will teach Spanish. Post, a Leland graduate, received her bachelor’s degree from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids and her master’s degree from the University of Denver. She has taught in Golden, Colo., as well as in Costa Rica. Last year Post taught in the Northport after school program.
“We are super excited to have her working with us this year in Spanish,” Stowe said.
Post replaces Casey Wilcox, who took a leave of absence to teach in Venezuela. Wilcox was Northport’s
Spanish teacher and the girls varsity basketball coach. The district has hired Nathan Kalchik to take over Wilcox’ coaching duties.
Breakfast and lunch prices for the school year will remain the same, with breakfast costing $1.25, elementary lunch $2 and lunch for students in grades 6-12 set at $2.25.
Northport students will also see a newly varnished high school gym floor.
“The staff has been working tirelessly to get the building up and running,” Stowe said.