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Big Changes Coming to Liberty and Roosevelt Middle Schools

Cynthia Cumming

Friday, August 30, 2013 • 12:37am

WEST ORANGE, NJ - Liberty Middle School Principal Bob Klemt and Roosevelt Middle School Principal Lionel Hush sat down on Aug. 29 with The Alternative Press of West Orange to discuss the changes coming to their seventh- and eighth-grade curriculums in September.

Klemt and Hush have been working tirelessly with their staffs to adjust 7-8 scheduling at their schools for extended sessions, while adhering to all common core standards requirements set by the state.  

Earlier this week, West Orange TAP reported that Edison Middle School will now be utilizing Connected Math 3. Liberty and Roosevelt will continue with the utilization of Connected Math 3 at the seventh- and eighth-grade levels. Seventh-graders will study pre-algebra; eighth graders will study algebra. All courses are compliant with the common core standards requirements for New Jersey.  The Common Core has "shifted" standards moving more upper grade level content or rigor to the middle school courses specifically 6th and 7th grade seeing the bulk of the curricular changes.

There are several questions on the SAT Math portion on geometry and research has shown there is an advantage to taking geometry in high school over middle school. Connected Math 3 offers online support and instruction as well. Frank Ianucci, Math Supervisor for grades 6-12, has established Pacing Guides for grades 6-8 to keep all classes on track.

Integrated Language Arts will be implemented, though both LMS and RMS will also offer seventh graders a Writer's Workshop course. In addition, they will receive a  Students will also take a Computer Applications course. There is a state mandated "technical assessment" of all students in the middle school.

Another big change will be the addition of Honors Math and Honors Integrated Language Arts for 7-8. "Admission into the honors classes will be based on grades, NJ Ask test scores, and in the case of students on the 'cusp' the approval of the Math and/or Language Arts Supervisor, who will discuss the issue with parents and make a final decision," Hush said.

All classrooms will now have SmartBoards. Liberty and Roosevelt will be introducing its new Social Studies curriculums: Houghton Mifflin/Holt McDougal's "Civics in Practice" for seventh-graders, and "Ancient Civilizations" for eighth-graders. Principal Hush, whose RMS social studies teachers tested the curriculum, said his teachers were "excited about the curriculums and the online access they offered, including interactive activities via the History Channel." HAP classes will continue for seventh-graders, with Judy Jacobs returning to LMS and Tonio Favetta covering at RMS.

The Odd/Even schedules will continue for students. Seventh grade students will take several required courses, like health, computer applications and Spanish. Eighth graders will receive a more comprehensive world language option (Spanish,  Italian, French or Mandarin) with a year-long class. 

With a full year of language, eighth graders can transition into high school and move into second year language courses. The high school requires three years of language to graduate..

Music students will continue with band or Orchestra; Chorus will continue, and those not participating in music will continue with Art classes. 

Both schools will continue to offer a seven-week Afterschool NJ Ask Test Prep program for students that need it. In an ongoing effort to help struggling students or students that lack support at home, LMS and RMS offer Homework Clubs, Peer Tutors, and Community Outreach Tutoring via a partnership with Seton Hall University.  At Roosevelt, Pleasant Valley Productions has offered drama workshops as well.

Interscholastic sports continues at both Liberty and Roosevelt, with cross country track, cheerleading (fall and winter), wrestling, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball, and intramural track. The athletes will compete with other middle schools in the area. Drama, jazz, strings, chorus, unity, Junior Interact, Helping Hands, art, newspaper, and Student Council are some of the other types of clubs offered at both schools.

Security has been upgraded with enhancements to school surveillance cameras and inside classroom locks to all doors.

Currently, 512 students are registered at Liberty and 504 students are registered at Roosevelt for the start of school on Sept. 9.

"We are excited to meet and work with our respective incoming seventh graders and are eager to motivate our 8th graders towards another successful school year," said Klemt. "We will strive towards providing a positive and lasting academic experience for our students."

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