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Third and Fifth Graders Slated to Change Places at Oxford Center School

The Board of Education is slated to move the third graders at OCS, currently housed in the campus out-buildings, into the main building, and move the fifth graders, in turn, to the campus buildings this summer.

Come this fall, the third graders at ol will trade places with the fifth graders in the name of safety.

That’s because the Board of Education, after fielding concerns from parents over the last couple of years, decided that third graders, currently housed in the school’s campus buildings, will be moved under one roof in the school's main building. The fifth graders, in turn, will move from the main building into the campus buildings, which are separate classrooms located up a steep hill, alongside the school.

The move is slated to take place over the summer, said school board Chairwoman Rose McKinnon.

“The concern has been the transition of the younger students going from being all under one roof (in grades K-2) to the campus buildings (at OCS),” McKinnon said. “Parents have always been a little apprehensive.”

Oxford Center School houses students in grades 3-5.

McKinnon said the board wanted to make the move happen last year, but since that didn’t happen, she said plans are in the works to make the switch a reality once the current school year ends.

"Our goal here is more for transitional purposes,” she said. “I can relate because my kids went there, too.”

The board has heard complaints from parents, many who have expressed concerns about the third graders having to lug heavy backpacks up the hill, braving the elements, the potential of falling and how they are outside of their comfort zone of being housed under one roof as they did in second grade, she said.

McKinnon said the move makes sense since fifth graders, in general, are bigger in size and more mature, and would have an easier transition than the younger children.

“It’s also a pretty long walk (to the campus buildings) for students who have come from being under one roof,” McKinnon added. “I understand parents are concerned about that. But the school campus is very safe.”

She said any time third graders leave the campus buildings, for example, and need to go to the main building for gym or lunch, they are always accompanied by their teacher. And if a student needs to see the nurse, an adult monitor, equipped with a walkie talkie, accompanies that child from the campus building to the main building.

“It is safe, and we do have a monitor up there who directs the students,” McKinnon noted.

Monitors also accompany students if they have to be dismissed early from school, she said.

The campus buildings were originally placed at the school several years ago on a temporary basis to handle an influx of pupils, McKinnon said. But, she said, the campus buildings have remained out of necessity to accommodate a growing student population.

Moving the younger children to the main building is a relief for some parents, including the mom of an incoming third grader, who wished to remain anonymous.

“The kids are too young and too little to be expected to use the pods for their classrooms,” she said. “They are too far away from the main building and it creates issues with having them remember to carry their lunches down to the main lunch room. In bad weather, they have to dress up and dress down each time they change classrooms, and at that age they are a little slower at getting that done.

"They are coming into an environment where everything is under one roof and the classes are close together. If any grade has to be the one using those out-buildings, it should be the older kids who are familiar with the environment and are used to being at (OCS), are a little wiser and a bit more mature to handle the elements.”

Another mom, who also wanted to remain anonymous, said she, too, had similar concerns when her daughter was a third grader at OCS.

“I never understood why they had the third graders up there, and I absolutely agree that it’s a great idea to move them,” the mom said. “Plus, I was always concerned about the (smaller) kids having to walk up that steep hill, where they could slip and fall. Bigger kids are a little more aware of their surroundings, and a bit more mentally prepared than a third grader.”

The mom also noted she was concerned about the campus buildings so closely bordering the woods, which are not fenced in.

“With the woods right there, what would stop someone (from the outside) from walking right into the building,” she said.

Oxford Center School Principal Heath Hendershot declined to comment for this article.

MOM April 09, 2011 at 12:00 AM
I think it's time for an orientation for the PARENTS who are transitioning into the third grade from QFS. They currently have an orientation program usually in May for the CHILDREN who are going into OCS but I think this article proves that it is the parents who are apprehensive about the "big move" and not the kids. I will say that when it was my child's turn to go to OCS from QFS, I was not crazy about the fact that he/she could potentially end up in a campus building. As luck would have it, we ended up in the main building for all three years at OCS. This past September my youngest child got put into a portable classroom. To calm my nerves (though I never showed it in front of the child), we made an appointment with the new teacher to come meet them and see where we would physically be. Did I mention they are air conditioned too??? Once the first day of school came, all I heard were stories of squirrels, acorns/pinecones on the ground, birds chirping, etc. My child LOVED it. Until you experience it you will be a little apprehensive but I don't think it's right to change the whole atmosphere for a few concerned parents, this happens every year. Also, music, art and math applications are only in the portable classrooms so they will have to leave the main building three times a week anyway; you can't leave them in a bubble forever. Keep the faith . . .
Paget Kidd April 09, 2011 at 12:39 AM
Well said, "MOM". I can't imagine what the purpose of this move is, other than to allay the fears of some vocal parents who have not had a child go through the "portable experience." It has been nothing but positive for my 3rd grader. If anyone needs these motor breaks during the day, it is the younger students. Also, although they have said the actual move will not happen during the school year, what about the packing? Piled up boxes in the corners of the classrooms is sure to be a distraction to kids. If the board wants this to happen so badly, maybe they should volunteer their time and come pack up the classrooms during the summer.
Citizen of Oxford April 09, 2011 at 11:43 AM
As far as this goes, "Also with the maturity of the upcoming 2nd graders - if they are not mature enough to handle the walk, how many of these kids play sports - pop football, flag football, soccer, baseball, lacrosse, karate; etc - those sports require a-bit of maturity, and yet they play, but they can not handle the transition to campus buildings, when this has been going in for many years ?" I agree. Our children in Oxford have been doing this for years and have been able to handle the way it currently is. However, just like you said, that is a RUMOR. And, most of the time rumors aren't true. But, just think about that one for just one second. Does it make any sense at all? No. They would never make the kids do something like that, especially since they won't even be there at all on the time they plan to make this move.
Citizen of Oxford April 09, 2011 at 11:47 AM
Parents these days worry way too much. They are worried about the children "lugging heavy backpacks up the hill, braving the elements." Unbelievable. They are getting older, its time for them to start to mature. And, plus, 1.) I've never seen our school system make the children go to school through a blizzard that the children would have to "brave." 2.) It says above, the children in the campus buildings are always accompanied by an adult.
Olya Fryz May 11, 2011 at 02:41 AM
I have to say that my kids loved being in the portables for their 3rd grade "experience" at Center School. They loved having air conditioning, and their own bathroom and their own outdoors where they could have their snack or their recess. It was a new experience and made them feel special. It's truely a lovely experience and although I was also nervous about it, it was great for the kids and very safe. There has never been a safety issue, ever. To expect the teachers to all make a move and change the configuration due to apprehension for a new situation seems really strange. It's sad that the principal or the teachers were not considered in this decision, even for their feedback, concerns or suggestions. This is a huge move and impacts the whole school and truly the whole community, which the Board is supposed to represent. I wish the Board would have at least consulted the Center School staff with their thoughts and concerns.

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