Marion School District seventh graders will have a whole new look and feel for their school in the upcoming 2023-24 school year, as the building breaks away from Marion Junior High to become its own independent school.
For the past several years, seventh graders have been a part of MJHS, but were housed in a separate building, known casually as the “seventh grade experience.” But with this change, the school will become its own entity, with its own administration, support staff, and dedicated team of seventh grade teachers.
The new school will be known as the “Marion Seventh Grade Academy.” Emily Hall, an assistant principal at Marion High School, has been tabbed to be the school’s first principal. Hall said the mindset for the Seventh Grade Academy -- or “7GA” for short – will be one of growing together.
“Our focus will be on building skills that will help us work together with students toward long-term goals like graduation, workforce readiness, citizenship, and creative thinking,” Hall said. “Having a separate building for seventh graders gives us a great chance to bring students from our three magnet elementary schools into one place, where they can practice social skills without being overwhelmed by older classes. Our teachers will have the ability to hone in on academic skills in each content area that can serve as a foundation for the complex skills of junior high and high school that await students in the years ahead.”
For Dr. Glen Fenter, Marion superintendent, the establishment of the Seventh Grade Academy is a way to continue the tradition of excellence that has been established by the district’s magnet schools. The magnet schools have been wildly successful and popular, he said, with each school developing its own unique culture, whether it’s in math and science, the arts, or leadership development.
“Students who attend those magnet schools have great experiences, because the schools themselves are intentionally small in terms of numbers --- just a few hundred students each,” Fenter said. “There's a great family atmosphere that's built in all of the magnet schools. So when our students graduate sixth grade, and they’ve been with their own group for five or six years, now it's time to integrate into the rest of the school community. That’s why we wanted to have one building where we only do seventh grade, so all of those students who have been separated can now come together and take all of the values they have learned, all the experiences they had from being in a separate elementary school, and weave those together into one building.”
“I think the fact that we keep seventh graders in their own building for a year is a fantastic opportunity for them to accomplish what they need to do as students,” Fenter continued. “And if you talk to their parents or grandparents, they're excited. Because seventh grade is a unique age, and we’re giving our seventh graders an opportunity to be unique together.”
In addition to having a dedicated building principal, 7GA will also have its own assistant principal, school improvement specialist, school counselor, and media specialist. The district is in the process of filling those positions. The school will also have its own page on the district’s website as well as its own Facebook page. Those pages will be launched this summer.
“I can’t wait to bring our creative and competent 7GA team together in the next school year,” Hall said. “I look forward to building community and camaraderie among our seventh grade Patriots!”
The Marion School District is an innovative and growing district committed to helping every student find their unique path to success in school and in life. With more than 150 years of experience serving families in Crittenden County, the district offers a high school, a junior high, a seventh grade school, and three award-winning magnet schools. For enrollment information, including information on school choice, visit https://www.msd3.org/ or call 870-739-5100.