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Permian showcase New students coming to high school

Hundreds attend orientation

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Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 5:00 am

Permian High School hosted 800 to 900 incoming freshmen and sophomores and their families at an orientation Monday. Along with offering information, the showcase gave parents and students a chance to meet teachers and see all the activities the campus has to offer.

The coming school year marks the first time Permian and Odessa high schools will welcome freshmen through their doors.

The move is part of the district’s transition to a middle school concept where sixth, seventh and eighth-graders will attend middle school in what are now the junior highs and ninth-graders will head to the high schools.

Added space and renovations is financed by a $129.75 million bond approved by voters in November 2012. Speaking before a packed auditorium, Principal James Ramage said the target date to have the new academic wings and cafeteria is Aug. 15. Teachers will have 10 days to move in before school starts.

As Permian goes through the process of moving freshmen in, Ramage said parents may contact the school with any questions or concerns. “We’re going to take care of your son or daughter,” he said.

Ramage reviewed dress code, cell phone use, the mandate that students be polite to everyone in the building and the fact that credits are what count at Permian. He said he and his assistant principals talked to all eighth-graders at the junior high schools today and visited with the principals to see whether students were passing their eight-grade State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests in English, math, science and social studies.

To move up to ninth grade, parents must keep an eye on their students’ grades. “We base everything on credits,” Ramage said.

Graduation is dependent on students passing five STAAR tests and earning 26 credits.

Ramage said there will be 10 administrators supervising the entire campus next year.

He added that freshmen and sophomores will be separated from juniors and seniors so the students won’t have to travel all over the campus in search of classes. There also will be separate bell schedules for the younger grades, he said.

There will be two ninth-grade principals and two ninth-grade academic counselors who will follow the students for two years before they switch to their junior-senior counselors. When the students become juniors and seniors, they’ll get new principals and counselors.

Freshmen and sophomores will not be able to leave campus for lunch. Lunch will likely start about 10:30 or 1045 a.m. and there will be two freshmen and two sophomore lunches back to back, he said. The cafeteria’s capacity is 700 kids.

Associate Principal Ysmael Lujan said 3,800 to 4,100 students are expected to enroll next year. The campus currently has about 2,500, he said.

Students will receive color-coded lanyards with their photos on the front. The back of the ID cards will feature the bell schedule.

On cell phone use, Ramage said there are some teachers who allow them in class for educational purposes. Students are allowed to text during passing periods, but cell phone calls are not permitted. He said each classroom has a phone in it.

Ear buds are only allowed at breakfast and lunch.

Planners will be issued the first week of school and they will be checked every six weeks. Ramage said this is 5 percent of a students’ grade. The first planner is free; extras are $7 each and are available in the school bookkeeper’s office, he said.

He urged parents to gain access to their students’ grades before the end of the year, and to teach their kids to access them.

Ramage said students who seem to do best in school are involved in extracurricular activities – whether it’s sports, fine arts or organizations. He suggested students sign up for one or two activities, but not to overload.

Shelly Maxwell and her daughter Carimie, who attends Nimitz Junior High School, said the information they received was “very useful.”

“I’m really excited to know the freshmen and sophomores are going to be separated and I’m very excited to know there are going to have a closed campus at lunch,” Shelly Maxwell said.

Other parents agreed. “It’s good that they’re going to keep seniors and juniors away. Parents don’t have to be scared for the little ones,” said John Andrade, who attended the showcase with his son, Daniel, a Hood Junior High School student.

Counselor Sandy Bradford said she is excited about the influx of new students. “It’s long overdue,” she said. “The junior high system is antiquated. I think it’s in the best interest for them to be on campus throughout high school. I’m looking forward to a closed campus. I think it will benefit school attendance and grades.”

“I have to admit it is a little scary, but all change is scary, so we’re just going to band together and make it work,” Bradford added.

Ramon Rivera, department chair of Languages Other Than English, was at the Spanish Club display. He said they started with 300 pamphlets and had 20 left. The club currently has 30 members for the after-school program.

“I’m looking at 60” next year, Rivera said.

Registration will be June 15-Aug. 20 for seniors; June 29-Aug. 20 for juniors; July 13-Aug. 20 for sophomores; and July 27-Aug. 20 for freshmen, according to Ramage’s presentation.


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