On the home page of the East Jackson Middle School website, there is a notice to parents and students stating eighth-grade students will be at the high school for the entire day this year.
“This means that all bus/parent drop-offs and pickups will be at the high school,” the website states.
But while eighth graders may be taking all their classes at East Jackson Comprehensive High School again this year, they are still considered part of EJMS, April Howard, Jackson County School System superintendent, said.
The decision was apparently made to allow the students to take more high school classes and it’s a plan the school system plans to adhere to.
“We worked hard to align schedules so that eighth graders could utilize the EJCHS facilities for their connections classes,” Howard wrote in an email. “This decision was made to avoid the lost instructional time resulting from loading buses to go back to EJMS.”
Last year, the eighth-grade students took their core classes at the high school, but they were bussed back to the middle school for their connections classes (i.e. band, chorus, health, PE, Ag tech, Spanish, art, etc.).
This year, administrators intended on having the eighth-grade class start its academics in the morning, but it worked out that they were able to accommodate the students entirely at the high school, said Howard.
This year, at least 30 to 45 percent of the eighth-grade is taking at least one class at the high school level. For example, 60 kids out of 250 are taking Spanish I and there are whole classes of ninth-grade literature and coordinate algebra students.
But middle school students don’t share classes with upperclassmen. The eighth grade is kept in a completely separate wing with its own lunch period and little to no interaction with the rest of the school. There are also two gymnasiums at the high school for separate assemblies and physical education classes.
A structure is still in place for communication between the eighth grade and EJMS, however. A middle school bus will shuttle the students who are involved in extra-curricular activities (like after-school band, football, cheerleading, basketball, etc.) back to EJMS after school is out; and there are once-a-month assemblies where the eighth grade returns to the middle school during the school day, said Howard.