Oak Manor to become 6th grade center

Published 5:52 pm Friday, March 4, 2005

By By RANDI K. PICKLEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Current fifth grade students in the Niles Community Schools will be in for some changes next year.
Letters to parents were sent home on Thursday announcing that next fall, all sixth graders in the school district will attend Oak Manor.
Oak Manor, located in the middle of the Oak Manor subdivision, has served the district as an elementary school.
In addition to a new location, sixth graders in the Niles district will benefit from an enhanced curriculum, Law said.
The new concept at Oak Manor will combine elements from both the elementary and middle schools to create a comfortable transition from one level to the next, he said.
Also, sixth graders will have the option of taking band during the school day instead of as an extracurricular class early in the morning as previously scheduled. The middle school and high school band directors will teach this class.
A new choir program, taught by Mrs. Beverly So, will be included in the curriculum, as will, courses in art and Spanish be offered to sixth graders next year.
As for students interested in intramural sports, a program will be offered after school.
Another beneficial change will be that all of the new laptop computers will be moved to Oak Manor, allowing it to become the most technologically advanced school in the district.
To accommodate the forming of a sixth-grade center, students in other grades who would have attended Oak Manor next year will be dispersed among the district's other elementary schools according to where they live.
About half the children will be assigned to Ballard School, while about a quarter attend Eastside and a quarter will attend Howard-Ellis Elementary.
The change at Oak Manor helps to solve several issues within the Niles school district, Law said.
Oak Manor Elementary had been experiencing a shortage of students in the last five years, from 580 students to only 280.
Families in the neighborhoods serving the district have matured and the children of new homeowners and renters in the area have yet to reach school age.
Two years ago a multi-age concept was developed at Oak Manor which educated students more by skills than by grade level. The school board added an extra teaching position to assist with this approach.
To accommodate the new sixth grade center, however, that added staff member will be removed and, due to budget cuts, another staff position will be reduced as well.
Similar to the four-teacher-team set up at Ring Lardner, Oak Manor will have nine sixth-grade teachers who will form four two-teacher teams and one single-teacher team, thus acquainting the sixth graders with the middle school set up ahead of time.
Combining the sixth grades into one building will also help classroom oordination since the same textbooks and materials will be used for all classes.
Next year, sixth grade students will begin classes at 7:49 am and dismiss at 2:40 pm, similar to the middle school schedule. Although some families may be inconvenienced by the changes in schedule, "almost half of the students are already in band, which meets before school," Law said.
The other half would still have to change to an earlier arrival the following year, anyway, so the schedule is merely being bumped up by a year, he said. Additional bus stops will be added for students in the Eastside area. An open house for the Class of 2012 and their parents has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 26, at Oak Manor from 7 to 8 p.m. Mrs. Robin Hadrick, who will be the principal next year at Oak Manor, and some of the school's staff will describe the program in more detail at that time.