Serra Sowers

Ms. Jaime Washington, the 9th Grade Center director, reviews her plans for the coming months.

Malavika Kannan and Shafana Mohammad

The long-awaited Ninth Grade Center (NGC) will finally be ready for incoming freshmen in the 2018–19 school year. This center will be located at Millenium Middle School’s current campus and will house around 1,200 freshmen, including the International Baccalaureate, Health Academy, and Traditional programs.

“Historically, [Seminole High School] has had a large number of freshmen that continues to grow every year, so having the facility at Millennium Middle will help to accommodate them,” said NGC director Ms. Jaime Washington.

There are many factors that were taken into consideration before incorporating the new campus. For instance, administrators had to consider how the buses would be handled, and how students would be enabled to participate in activities occurring on the main campus, from pep rallies to advanced classes.

In spite of the separate campuses, Ms. Washington emphasizes that freshmen will still be afforded plentiful opportunities to be a part of the SHS community.

“I think a lot of people initially see it as a separation, but it’s really not. It’s literally across the road,” said Ms. Washington. “We’re being afforded a NGC literally in the backyard of the main campus. And therefore, even when it comes to pep rallies, our freshmen will be able to come over for the pep rallies.”

As with all major changes, the introduction of the NGC has understandably sparked questions from staff, current students, and incoming freshmen. We spoke to Ms. Washington to get to the bottom of these frequently-asked questions.

How will transportation occur between the campuses?

Regarding the buses, there will be a ten-minute difference in bell schedules between the NGC and the main campus. This allows time for buses to pick up and drop off students at both locations.

Classes at the Seminole’s main campus will continue to start at 7:10 a.m., whereas classes at the ninth grade center will start at 7:20 a.m. Students at the main campus will still be dismissed at 2:10 p.m., while the NGC will be dismissed 10 minutes later at 2:20 p.m. More information about this can be found in the NGC section of the school website.

What will happen to freshmen who wish to take electives, pre-IB, Health Academy, or AP classes?

The majority of the electives offered on the main campus will also be available at the NGC. However, electives such as swimming will not be offered there because the swimming pool facility is located near the main campus.

Regarding specialized classes (such as Health Academy and pre-IB), all of these will be available at the NGC.

“We’ve already talked to Health Academy and IB about it,” said Ms. Washington. “The courses that they need to take will be offered in the NGC, so it won’t be any different. It’ll just be a change in location.”

As for AP classes, they will be available for incoming freshman based upon their needs and requests. While it is not feasible to offer every AP course at the NGC, students will have the opportunity to take AP classes, as well as special electives, at the main campus in the mornings.

“We won’t offer just one or two students an [AP] course,” said Ms. Washington. “But if there are freshmen who want to take it, we’ll work it out. It’ll be on a case-by-case basis.”

SHS will be able to provide definite answers about course offerings during the summer. Although course requests from current eighth graders will arrive in February, administration must wait until these requests are corroborated by FSA scores, which only arrive in the summer.

How will students travel between campuses during the day?

Movement between the two locations will be minimal as most freshmen courses will be offered at the NGC. However, there are plans being developed for students who need to take morning classes on the main campus.

According to Ms. Washington, these students will be dropped off at the main center in the morning for their first period. Afterwards, they will walk to the NGC to spend the rest of their day.

SHS is exploring options to make the migration between campuses as secure as possible. For example, a fence will be built along the sidewalk to keep the entirety of Seminole— main campus and NGC— enclosed. Additionally, security teams will monitor the flow of students between the campuses.

“We’ll have our security team over at the NGC making sure that they’re receiving [the freshmen],” said Ms. Washington. “They’ll know we have a migration coming over from the main campus. So we’ll be out there, vigilant to receive them, and we’ll have communication channels between security.”

Will freshmen be isolated from participating in multi-grade activities, such as band, yearbook, and newspaper?

Ms. Washington said that traditionally multi-grade courses will be “offered separately” at the NGC. Specifically, she is working closely with the band teachers to ensure that freshmen will not be isolated from the rest of the musicians.

“[Band is] going to make sure that [freshmen] get to be a part of afternoon practices, all of the events and games. They won’t miss out on any of that whatsoever,” she said.

Additionally, there will be levels of separation within the freshman band students depending on their experience and which instrument they play.

Details are not yet available as to how yearbook and newspaper— both highly collaborative classes— will function with the freshmen in a different location. Ms. Washington anticipates resolving this scenario by summertime, once course requests can be ascertained.

Where can parents learn more about the NGC?

Additional information can be found on the Seminole High School website under the tab labeled 9th Grade Center. To stay updated on any new details about the NGC, parents and students are encouraged to follow them on their social media pages. The NGC can be found on Twitter and Instagram @seminolengc as well as on Facebook.