The first day of school is a couple weeks away and Gering Junior High faculty are getting ready to welcome 145 sixth graders to the building. As parents and guardians arrive at the school to drop their students off prior to the 8:05 a.m. bell, seventh and eighth graders will be dropped off in the same area, but sixth graders drop off area is on the east side of the building.

Julie Siebke, GJHS dean of students, said, “The Seventh Street drop off for six graders will be on the northeast side of the building and we’ll come that off so families can swing in and drop kids off,” she said.

Seiler said the drop off time will start around 7:40 a.m. to allow students time to eat breakfast. Once school begins at 8:05 a.m., the building will be secured and visitors and students must enter through the main entrance on Q Street.

Pick up location will mirror drop off locations with seventh grade on Q Street. and eighth graders on R Street.

“We’d like the eighth graders to try to be picked up on the north side of the building,” Seiler said.

As the six graders transition to the junior high, Seiler said it’s important for everyone to stay safe.

“With the six grade parents, I think they need to make sure to be patient in the beginning with our drop off zone,“ Seiler said. “Getting there a little early is OK because kids will be gathered on the north side of the school.“

Six grade students need to enter the building through the field on the north side around the choir and band rooms. The flow through that door will help prevent congestion through the east side entrance and along the roadway.

Siebke said students will receive their current class schedules in the next week as they finalize classes for the school year.

“For seventh and eighth graders, when they get their schedules, their (locker) combos will be on there,” she said.

Despite the changes taking place at GJHS, Seiler wants the first day to be normal.

“We want the first day to be as routine as possible and just get the six graders comfortable and excited to be here,“ he said.

Sixth graders are encouraged to get involved in various clubs at the junior high, including student council, art club, builders club, Math Counts, and Rachel’s Challenge.

The junior high is also welcoming eight new staff.

Kyle Cotton will teach seventh and eighth grade physical education. Cierra Weatherfield will teach seventh and eighth grade special education. Denise Jensen will teach sixth grade special education. Jarrod Williams will teach sixth, seventh and eighth grade business and computers. Zach Boness will teach sixth, seventh and eighth grade STEM and science. Lisa Blanco will teach seventh grade math. Shauna Schneider will be a paraprofessional. Henry Moreno will be an attendance manager and an alternative education paraprofessional.

“Teaching adolescence is not for the faint hearted,” Seiler said. “We want teachers who want to be here. They are a fun group who are excited.”

GJH is also launching nine new courses for the 2019-2020 academic year, including STEM, journalism and introduction to agriculture, technology and business.

Parents are invited to get involved in the school’s booster club. More information about the booster club will be available during the open house Aug. 26 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

As faculty make the final preparations in the classrooms and the hallways before students arrive, Seiler said he is grateful for the community support through this transition.

“The community has shown so much support creating a new school that allows for this opportunity for our six graders,“ Seiler said. “We are so thankful for their commitment to keeping Gering at the top of the educational world in Nebraska.”

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Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at lauren.brant@starherald.com.