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A class menagerie at East Valley

Middle-school mergers make for new friends as new year begins

The first day of middle school is exciting. Students come in with new class schedules, new lockers and new friends to make.

At East Valley Middle School, there were many more new friends to make since the district has merged East Valley Middle School and now-closed Mountain View Middle School.

The school was decked out in new school colors, green and white, and the staff members all sported green T-shirts that read, “We are the new Knights.” The school’s new mascot is the same as East Valley High School.

“The Mountain View kids are actually pretty cool,” said eighth-grader Blake Nixdorf. He attended EVMS last year and was looking forward to meeting the new batch of students.

Mountain View was closed last spring for several reasons. Declining enrollment in the east end of the district left the school with only about 300 students in a building that could serve around 750. State budget cuts and the district’s decision to move to a kindergarten through eighth grade primary system also contributed to the closure.

Every first day of school has their glitches and Wednesday was no exception. Students had trouble finding their classrooms and many couldn’t open their lockers.

But for the most part, everyone was getting along. The classrooms were full and during a welcome assembly to discuss rules, expectations and the lunch schedule, the gym bleachers were full. Staff members wheeled out extra bleachers and some students sat on the gym floor.

“I haven’t seen one issue with the kids,” said Lorri Reilly, dean of students.

She said the students met for the first time last spring when the district held an ice cream social and lunch at EVMS.

On Wednesday, students dressed in their new school clothes laughed and joked in the halls, hugging friends they haven’t seen since last spring and double checked their locker combinations.

Reilly said there were 556 students at the school Wednesday and she expects more to come in next week when some families return home from late vacations. She said the students are used to a middle school schedule since all of them are seventh- and eighth-graders. The sixth-graders that used to attend middle school stayed at their old elementary schools in the transition to a kindergarten through eighth-grade system. They will attend those same schools as seventh-graders next year, as well.

“It went really well,” she said of the students. “They were great.”

Seventh-grader Mark Tredway attended Mountain View last year and still sported a Lancers sweatshirt. He said his bus ride to school didn’t seem too long and for the most part it was a good first day of school.

“So far, it’s pretty fun,” Tredway said. “The lockers were hard to open.”

Superintendent John Glenewinkel said he’d been out visiting the schools on the first day to see how things were going, both at the middle school and the elementary schools.

“It looks really good,” he said of the first day. “The buildings have a good feel.”