Horner Junior High Delays Middle School Transition

Horner Junior High School, which currently accommodates both seventh and eighth graders, was scheduled to transition into a middle school for the 2019-2020 school year with the addition of sixth graders from elementary schools. However, the transition has been postponed to the 2020-2021 school year due to construction delays and other factors. The postponement would also make more time for planning the transition.

The main reason for this transition is to align with the new curriculum that correlates for grades 6-8, and to alleviate overcrowding in Fremont’s elementary schools as the city’s population grows. The transition was a district-wide decision that was initiated in 2015, four years before the scheduled transition.

“A Middle School Task Force consisting of district members, parents, and members of the communities spent two years researching aspects of a successful transition. Horner has already prepared for the transition, as it has added to its campus to support an increasing population of students, staff, and teachers,” said Jason Cain, the Program Manager of the Middle School Transition.

Several things had to happen at Horner for a smooth transition, including constructing adequate facilities for the incoming population, new classrooms and teachers for the sixth graders, and creating a welcoming environment for the sixth graders. The Where Everyone Belongs Program (WEB), a mentorship program similar to Irvington’s LINK, will be used to help incoming sixth graders familiarize themselves with the new environment with the help of eighth graders. WEB and presentation for families have helped ease concerns about how sixth grade will look like at Horner.

The transition was rescheduled gave more time to plan and prepare for the transition. “The different departments inside the school district have been working on all of the details in making the transition occur smoothly,” said Cain. “As we continue to prepare for the transition we find more and more ways to best support students and their families in transitioning to middle school.”

“Historically, nothing has ever happened on the said schedule,” said Gayathri Lakshmipathy, a sixth grade teacher at Warm Springs Elementary. “Planning has never been a strong point, which has not changed.”

The delay also allowed the district to recoup construction costs for the previously scheduled transition for the 2019 school year. For the transition to happen in 2019, additional workers and worker’s weekends would be needed for it to happen on schedule. However, now that the transition has been rescheduled for 2020, the district can save some money because extra work wouldn’t be needed over a shorter period of time.

While the planning and construction may be time-consuming, it is being done for the interest of the incoming sixth graders and their families, and to make the transition as smooth as possible. If all goes to plan, the sixth graders will become another integral part of the Horner and Irvington community.