LINDEN — As Northridge Middle School prepares to become North Montgomery Middle School, a final Spotlight under the original name was presented at the district’s public meeting Monday.
Going further than the name, another way the “new” school can partner more closely with the high school is to offer similar courses, Principal Steve Renzino said.
“About a year ago, Dr. (Colleen) Moran challenged us with the task of boostering some of our sports and our elective classes,” he said. “We feel like we’ve come up with some exciting new elective courses for the students to take at the middle school.
“There are so many the kids can take at the high school level, we just felt like we needed to increase those and let the kids have a little more fun and learn some different skills.”
Nearing their second year, the four programs introduced have seen quite a turnout.
Beginning the presentation was music teacher Megan Birk, who brought along several students to report on the Musical Theatre class.
“It’s been really fun for me because the other choir classes are so big, and these classes are about 8-15 kids,” she said. “I really get to individualize what I do with them and really focus on them, and kind of tailor the class to what they want to get out of it.”
Four students reported on the fun they have had in the program. One seventh-grade student brought in a self-made music video to display for the board.
The elective offers acting, singing, dancing and theater history as well.
Home economics teacher Sarah McCord’s elective is called Teen Cuisine where students can explore cooking.
“The only complaint I have about home ec is you can’t really go into great detail — you have so many topics you have to go over in 12 weeks — and the biggest complaint I get is ‘I want to cook,’” she said. “They’re really only putting in about 3-4 weeks (in cooking).”
The all-cooking exploratory program consists of seventh and eighth graders, who work the best together, McCord said. Subtopics within the class include world culture, chopping styles and etiquette.
“Those are the ones that really let them to see outside the classroom,” she added. “How many times have I heard ‘I want Mr. Renzino to see what I’ve made’ or ‘I want them to be able to taste-test what I’ve done’ and so that has been really cool. I think it really helps with our morale, and for the teachers to know that somebody is looking up to them and show them how they’re doing.”
Patrick McClamroch is the physical education teacher at Northridge. He and others at the school selected a class with a new style called BeFit.
“It’s enhancing your being through physical fitness,” McClamroch said. “I talk about ‘being’ because I really focus on the health triangle ... which includes mental-emotional health and the social health as well.”
Studies show students who engage in physical activity prior to learning core content are better because their brains are energized and better able to focus, he said.
“(Another) thing about this Spotlight that I’ve really noticed is the confidence that these electives are bringing into Northridge,” he said. “The confidence you guys have is awesome.”
Aaron Clawson explained the benefits of PBIS, or the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support program.
“PBIS has helped us promote positive behavior and it’s really easy for our staff members to reward our kids with points for it,” he said. “If a student picks up a piece of trash in the hallway and I see them, I get out my phone and award them 10 points.”
The PBIS reward system is part of a national platform which uses QR codes on student ID cards to track and accumulate points. Staff members can use the PBIS app on their smart devices to add points which students can later redeem in the form of pencils, erasers, seats for the day and even a P.E. games later in the day.
“It’s provided a positive culture among our students to do the right thing,” Clawson said. “Sometimes people get confused that it’s bribery, but it’s not that. Our students get taught at the beginning of the school year what the expectations are from our PBIS matrix, so they know that this is what we’re going to follow and that’s how you earn points, and that’s it’s awesome.”
Honorary board member
A final touch put on Monday’s public meeting was to include one final Northridge student honorary board member.
Eighth grader Carson Grote sat alongside regular board members for the meeting. He is the president of the National Junior Honor Society and The Encores in his show choir class. He also participates in football, basketball and track.
His parents, Hillary and Dan, and several family members were present for the entirety of the meeting.
In other business, the board:
• Approved the emergency allocation of $100,000 from the school’s Emergency Fund and $87,445 from the Capital Projects and Operations Fund to replace a section of the high school roof this summer.
• Approved the calendar for the 2021-22 school year.
• Approved a policy allowing only North Montgomery staff to post on social media.
• Voided outstanding checks totaling $490.