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CAC Announces Middle School Expansion

A proposed layout of a middle school floor at CAC's secondary campus.

A proposed layout of a middle school floor at CAC’s secondary campus. Click to view larger image.

Earlier this month CAC’s administration announced the relocation of sixth grade students to the secondary campus as part of the expansion of CAC’s middle school program. Through this decision, CAC will be moving to a lower (pre-K-5), middle (6-8), and upper (9-12) school organizational model beginning with the 2015-2016 school year. CAC’s president, Carter Lambert, said the goal of the expansion is to provide a customized educational experience for sixth, seventh and eighth grade students.

“Middle school students have unique developmental needs,” Lambert said. “We want to provide a positive and personal transition from elementary school that prepares students for success in high school.”

As part of the expansion, sixth, seventh and eighth grade classes will be grouped together in an area within the secondary campus. Tori Beach teaches elementary music and junior high choir at CAC, and sees preschool through eighth grade students each day. Based on her experience working at both the elementary and secondary campuses, Beach thinks the change will create a better fit for sixth graders.

Beach said. “During music, we have fourth and fifth graders together and sixth graders on their own because there’s such a distinct maturity difference between the two. Sixth and seventh graders are very similar in maturity, and I think it’s very beneficial to move them to where they will be around students and opportunities closer to their maturity level.”

The base of the middle school program will be a unique sixth-grade experience tailored to the developmental needs of the age group, according to Lambert. “Sixth grade students still need structure and clear limits,” Lambert said, “but they also need opportunities to try out new interests and capabilities.”

“One of the best parts of our campus is watching the high school students take care of the seventh graders… From day one, you can see their confidence growing from being on the Mountain.” – Danny Sullivan

In conjunction with the current curriculum, sixth graders will receive daily Spanish instruction and participate in daily physical education classes with CAC’s secondary coaches. To encourage extracurricular participation and exposure to the arts, students will participate in band or choir, as well as fine arts classes, two to three times per week. They will also have the opportunity to participate in secondary co-curricular activities.

While sixth grade students will gain from secondary amenities, the format of their day will look similar to that of a current sixth grade student. Students will have three main blocks of instructional time: language arts and social studies, mathematics and science, and Bible and enrichment classes. They will not follow the high school bell schedule or utilize lockers. Instead they will be assigned a homeroom where they will keep their books and other belongings.

Lesley Haughaboo is the mother of CAC seventh grader Hannah, fifth grader Andrew and preschooler Blake Haughaboo. Lesley said Andrew, who will be making the transition to the secondary campus as a sixth grader next year, is excited about the move – specifically being around more kids at a larger campus. Lesley said she is looking forward to the new options he will have.

“I think it’s going to be a good opportunity for him,” Lesley said. “I know they’re going to offer more things there like having drama and the science labs and different things they didn’t have at the elementary campus. I think it will make him more prepared and help him become a little more independent.”

Seventh and 12th grade Bible teacher Danny Sullivan said after seeing firsthand how much seventh graders thrive from the secondary experience, he’s confident CAC sixth graders will have a similar experience.

“One of the best parts of our campus is watching the high school students take care of the seventh graders,” Sullivan said. “They include them in chapel, pep rallies, student sections and Mustang Missions. From day one, you can see their confidence growing from being on the Mountain.”

CAC will offer a bus service from North Little Rock to the secondary campus and a route from Maumelle to both the secondary campus and Pleasant Valley campus beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.

The long-term goal of the expansion is to provide a complete middle school experience that will be the foundation for future educational, Christian and civic success. To achieve this, Lambert said CAC will continue to work with both students and parents.

“Middle school education must be a partnership between parents and teachers,” Lambert said. “At CAC, we expect communication between parents and faculty to be regular, direct, and characterized by respect and a common commitment to what is best for each student.”