Niles Community Schools welcomes back students for 2023-24 school year

Published 2:30 pm Thursday, August 31, 2023

NILES — After a summer away, students from across the area returned to school this week for the 2023-2024 school year.

In Niles, Niles Community Schools elementary and middle school students celebrated with a half day start on Monday, Aug. 28, while high school students jumped into the new year with a full day of classes.

“It feels great,” said Ring Lardner Middle School Principal Chris Porter. “I’ve been in the building for about a month but it’s just not the same without kids. All the work we’ve been doing the last few weeks is trying to make sure we’re ready to roll when the kids come in.”

Porter plans on carrying the positive momentum from last year into this year.

“We felt like we had a pretty good year last year and we want to kind of maintain that and keep it going,” he said. “We’re going to focus a great deal on our high expectations, both academically and behaviorally.”

For Porter and his staff, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports has been an emphasis since he came to the middle school.

“We want to recognize those students because unfortunately, so many times our time here in the office is focused on students that are having troubles, difficulties or whatever it is and the vast majority of kids who are just coming to school doing what they’re supposed to be doing don’t get the attention they deserve,” he said. “We’re gonna find ways to bring them to everybody’s attention. We want you to know about it.”

Porter said the three main goals the school is working on are literacy, math and the well-being of students.

“We’re gonna focus on literacy,” he said. “It does not matter what the subject is, if you do not read well you’re gonna struggle, not just in English class but science, social studies and even math. Obviously we’ve got math skills, you’ve got to have a basic math skills. The other part is the well-being of the child. We want our kids to be healthy, we want them to be safe, we want them to be resilient so that when things do happen, they’re able to take care of themselves, process whatever is going on and move forward and that’s tough at the middle school level because of where kids are developmentally. But it’s a big push for us and I’ve got I’ve got a phenomenal staff that really cares about kids and so we support them in a lot of different ways.”

Porter has been with Niles Community Schools for 15 years and is entering his second year as Ring Lardner Middle School Principal after 13 as the assistant high school principal.

“I just really love this community,” he said. “I love these kids. I had a surprising loss in the family this summer and almost without question, the people who reached out to me personally to see how I was doing were all former students and current staff members… I always enjoy working with kids. We have great kids here and I’m just trying to put them in the position to take the next step and do whatever it is they want to do. Let’s make sure you are ready so that you can hit the ground running over there so that you can take advantage of all the awesome stuff they do at the high school.”