Ahead of the class: Sixth and ninth graders in Indian Land back to school

joverman@fortmilltimes.comAugust 17, 2012 

— Sixth and ninth grade students at Indian Land Middle and High schools got a jump start on the school year today. Both grades started school one day earlier than their peers, to give them time to find their classes and learn more about their new schools.

School opens for all Indian Land students next week.

Among administrators’ chief concerns is school traffic. Right now, construction on Hwy. 521 at Doby's Bridge and River roads has the highway down to two lanes from its typical four.

That’s sure to cause delays when school starts, said Indian Land Elementary School Principal Beth Blum.

“Our resource officer has talked to the powers that be but unfortunately the wheels are in motion there and construction is not going to stop,” Blum said. “We’ve told parents to be patient, work with us. We’re doing the best we can.”

Indian Land Middle School Principal David McDonald echoed Blum’s concerns. In a parent meeting last week he told parents, “I’ve done a lot of jobs around here. I’ve cleaned toilets and I’ve moved books but there’s nothing I can do about laying asphalt,” he said.

“Folks just need to prepare. It’s going to be rough. Whatever extra time you think you need, double it.”

The middle school has 640 students enrolled this year. The high school has more than 800 students enrolled and the elementary school has more than 1,400 students expected to attend this year.

“We are now the largest school in the district,” Blum said. “We’re bigger than Lancaster High.”

To relieve crowding at the elementary school, 11 mobile classrooms will be in use.

When sixth grade students arrived at Indian Land Middle School on Friday they were dressed in their uniform attire and had maps of the building in hand. They met their teachers and also learned about some of the fun things middle school had in store for them, including the use of Kindle Fire tablets.

In one class students got to work with the Kindles, exploring the features and hearing about how they would be used for studying and educational games.

In other classes, students were introduced to a new way the middle school will be communicating between students and teachers – texting.

Using a texting service Indian Land Middle School teachers will be able to text reminders about assignments and activities. The messaging service is free to use and allows teachers and students to keep their mobile phone numbers private.

McDonald has reminded parents that standard text messaging rates will apply, however.

Parents can also sign up to receive reminders, McDonald added.

“Paper and writing things down does not work for students anymore,” McDonald said. “This will give us better communication.”

“If they all have cell phones, why not use them?” band director Scott Fleishman said.

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