Eighth, ninth grade prepares for move to new high school


Paris Lawson

Building Bricks of the Future Construction workers lay the foundation for the future of the high school. Work has been going on since 2018 on the new building about to be introduced to the Altoona Area School District.

KCBA Architects

Paris Lawson, Reporter

During the beginning of the 2020 school year, there will be changes for eighth and ninth graders. The ninth grade will be moved to the high school and the sophomores will also move as usual. 

By the beginning of the next school year, the new high school is scheduled to be built. This change has brought up a wide range of views from the people inside the schools. 

Principal Lori Mangan shared her thoughts on the new school and the change for ninth grade.

“I am, in all honesty, sad to lose the ninth grade from here since I was a part of the team of teachers and administrators that planned the junior high school educational program over a decade ago.  We planned AAJHS to meet the educational needs of students seven through nine in the areas of curriculum, co-curricular opportunities and extra-curricular activities.  I will certainly miss the ninth grade, we worked with them for a decade and felt we offered them a great program.  Having said that, I am excited about the sixth grade coming and what we’re going to be able to offer them and believe ninth graders will have great opportunities across the street,” Mangan said.

Some of the teachers moving over to the high school had thoughts about what will happen during the move and what it will be like.

“I have to pack everything as I am done using it throughout the year. I have an office, classroom, music library and storage closet to go through. And it takes a lot of time outside of the regular school day to take care of these things,” music teacher Kelly Sipes said.

Other teachers moving over to the high school, such as, Heather Partsch, Tara Van Caster and Jessica Patton, have to do the same thing with their rooms. While teachers prepare for the move, students are thinking about how next year will play out with the new school.

“I’m worried about the set-up because I don’t want to get lost in it. I don’t really know what’s going to be there, so I would like to see what it looks like. But at the same time, I don’t want to get lost in the new building,” ninth grader Katie Hovan said.

Mangan believes that the students will be able to adapt quickly to the changes coming in the new school year and that the impact of the change will not be too large.

“I think the impact will be minimal. When the eighth and ninth graders transition to the high school, there is going to be half of the population new in the high school. It may be rocky at first, because you don’t have as many upperclassmen to assist and at least a quarter of the teachers will be new.  Students however are resilient and they will adapt quickly,” Mangan said.

Twenty three current eighth and ninth grade teachers are moving over to the new school next year and are trying to prepare themselves for the transition. With certain things such as: the music programs, after-school programs, sports, the arts, grade level dances and even the possible introduction of a new grade level principal still being worked out, as well as the construction and renovations of the buildings completion, school is set to start after Labor Day 2020.