RLMS says farewell to its last middle schoolers

Published 12:03 am Friday, May 18, 2012

LAUREN WOOD/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Seventh-grade English teacher Mary Dooley, from left, art teacher Anne Marie Bailey, special education teacher Anita Green and eighth-grade computer discovery teacher Laveria Green wave and clap as they say goodbye to students as they roll by on their buses Thursday afternoon after the final bell rang on the last day of school at Robert Lewis Middle School. “This is a cheerful day, we made it through another year,” Laveria Green said.

NATCHEZ — Books were boxed, hugs were had and hands waved from school busses Thursday at Natchez-Adams School District schools.

At Robert Lewis Middle School, students’ shoes shuffled down the halls for the last time for a long time as students dismissed for the summer.

NASD officials recently announced the closing of the Robert Lewis campus for the 2012-2013 school year, so Thursday marked more than just a three-month vacation at the campus. The district plans to renovate the campus and transform it into a magnet school.

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“It’s kind of exciting,” said seventh-grade English teacher Linda Logan, who has been teaching for 13 years. “But it’s a little sad. This is the first place I actually started teaching.”

Logan will likely be teaching at the newly named Morgantown Middle School in the fall. But like most teachers in the district, she can’t be sure where she will be because school assignments haven’t yet been announced.

Logan said the last group of students who left her class Thursday at Robert Lewis will remain special to her.

“It’s hard for me seeing them leave,” Logan said.

Seventh-graders at Robert Lewis had mixed emotions about moving on to eighth grade. Those students will be headed back to Morgantown — the same school they attended for fifth and sixth grade — for eighth grade.

Jaimya Jenkins said she feels like she’s going back to elementary school.

Logan said many of her students have expressed a similar concern.

“For (seventh graders), it’s like a regression,” Logan said.

But others think heading back to Morgantown will have its perks.

Ail Norton said he will be able to ride his bike to school at Morgantown, allowing him to catch a few more minutes of sleep each morning.

And Aaron Coleman said he knows more people at Morgantown, including his two younger brothers, so there will more people at school with which to play basketball and football. Plus, Morgantown has a basketball court outside, Norton said.

Teachers and students said the last day of school is always kind of relaxed without a lot of academic material to cover, since grades are already recorded.

But for much of Thursday, teachers summoned the help of their students to stack and pack the books, technology and games they’ve accumulated over the years.

In one hall, three girls pushed a box nearly as tall as them and wider than the three of them down the hall to their teacher’s classroom. In another hall, one girl took a seat on top a rolling crate and scooted down the corridor.

But for all of the grumblings about the school changes teachers have heard from students, eighth grade teacher Cassandra Jones said she’s confident they’ll be just fine.

“Kids are resilient,” she said. “They’ll adjust.”

And like the school’s slogan says, Jones said, the reorganization will offer “a new opportunity to learn.”

Eighth-grader Taj Minor said as long as he gets his credits he needs to graduate, he’ll be OK.

But as for the summer, the last day of school meant his classmates would be soon scatter on trips across the country and to their respective homes, which was bittersweet.

“I’m going to miss my people,” he said, as he feigned a sniffle and wiped a fake tear.