Most students and teachers at Mason can’t remember a time when there weren’t eighth graders roaming the halls, staring wide-eyed at the upperclassmen three-times their size.
The eighth grade moved to Mason in the fall of 2006 to aid the overcrowding issues in the middle and elementary schools.
The 2012-2013 school year will be the last time a fresh crop of eighth graders start out their high school career in Mason. This is a part of the overall shift of grades happening within Falls Church City Public Schools. The fifth graders will be returning to Thomas Jefferson Elementary School and the eighth graders will be moving next door to Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School.
Some George Mason teachers will have to make the move to MEHMS along with the eighth graders in two years. This move would not be just an issue of moving to a new building and classroom, but also a switch from teaching high school curriculum to teaching middle school curriculum.
Moving an entire classroom to a different building would be a huge task and considering there are scores of supplies and materials stored in each classroom, this will be a challenge. Not to mention, for the teachers who have been at Mason for a number of years, it will be difficult to leave.
English department CIRT Elizabeth Rizzi believes that the eighth graders shifting down into the middle school would be beneficial for the eighth graders.
“It is very difficult for 18 to 19 year olds to relate to 12 to13 years olds, as there is too big of an age difference,” said Rizzi.
Having the eighth graders in a high school setting also, “puts an incorrect focus for the eighth graders-- there is so much in high school geared towards college and the future, and they shouldn’t be thinking about college,” said Rizzi.
Social studies teacher Pam Mahony “usually sees only benefits” to having the eighth graders here in Mason. Maturity wise, “Some 8th graders are fine in GM while some aren’t, and there are some tenth graders who are fine here while some aren’t,” said Mahony.
French teacher and assistant athletic director Julie Bravin also sees more positive than negative aspects.
“For the classroom, it’s great [for the eighth graders] to have a year to adjust to high school life, until ninth grade when grades are actually on the transcript. They get to have a year to get used to high school life and how it works, and it makes them better high school students. Having the eighth graders here is good for the upperclassmen as well because it teaches them to become leaders,” said Bravin.
For sports, “it makes them more comfortable in the school; it’s a great way to adapt to high school and have a lot of friends in a lot of the different grades,” said Bravin.
As of the date this article was written, the teachers who will be moving down to the middle school were not made public. Students and faculty members alike should support the teachers who are headed into this time of confusion.
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