The results are in for the sixth grade move

Laura Francavilla and Caitlin Le Goff, Managing Editor and Copy Editor

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Imagine walking down the street and seeing parents walk towards the high school, some wearing red shirts and some in blue shirts. The sign in front of the building displays the message to all passing by promoting the Board of Education meeting to discuss the sixth grade move to Berner. Parents are heated and colors are flying.

It’s been one year since the first wave of sixth graders stepped through Berner’s doors and the reaction from the community was positive overall. “It exceeded my expectations… the students did exceptionally well academically and socially, literally we had very few issues,” Superintendent Mrs. Lucille F. Iconis said.

One concern parents had was that the seventh and eighth graders would bully the sixth graders. This, however, was not the case. “I personally did not see any bullying. I had a pretty low-key group of students,” sixth grade ELA and Social Studies teacher Mrs. Jeannine Lescoe said. “There were reports of bullying throughout the school year. I just didn’t witness any of it.”

Another concern many parents had was that their child’s grades and academic performance would suffer from being in a new school. “We absolutely saw a stronger student,” Mrs. Iconis said.

Students were able to challenge themselves with harder course work and most were able to keep up their grades or improve on them.

“It would be difficult for me to say if the grades were better or worse. There were over 500 students in grade six last year and I only taught 48 students. What I can tell you is that my students worked very hard and met academic success in my classroom,” Mrs. Lescoe said.

Many also felt that drugs and other substances would be a distraction and a major problem to the younger students, who hadn’t previously been exposed to them. “What’s been a little bit of a problem is the vaping, you know I’ll be very honest, we’ve had a few situations of the vaping, where you don’t really have much of that in the elementary level, of course they’re bringing it from home, but we’re on top of it, we’re monitoring it,” Mrs. Iconis said.

All of the students were also reported to have an easy time navigating the halls to get to class. The 2018-19 school year is set to have sixty less students, so they will have more room in the halls to get to classes.

A major concern of some former students and some parents was the gym class changing situation and the amount of lockers for the students. Due to the “flip-flop back and forth of the sixth grade,” according to Mrs. Iconis, the extra gym lockers were canceled and were sold by the locker company. Lockers were not given to sixth graders until the third week of September, which did not require them to change for class during that time.  

On a more positive note, the seventh and eighth graders were like “mother hens” to the young students. Mrs. Iconis wants to introduce a “formal ambassador program” where an eighth grader offers to help a sixth grader around Berner for the next school year.   

Even clubs became more popular, including more submissions to the Berner Beacon and four sections of the cooking club had to be set up to meet the demands of the students.

While the move was very controversial, the Massapequa School District administrative office felt that the move was beneficial for everyone in the building. “It exceeded our expectations, I know we worked really hard building it, we worked for sixteen months to create it, we had a little set back with last summer, but I cannot thank the teachers enough,” Mrs. Iconis said. “They cannot believe that a sixth grader is able to work at the level the sixth graders worked at [this school year]… that was my hope.”

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