MT. VERNON – The day after the school board’s vote came down, Mt. Vernon Middle School Principal Monty Nash informed his students of the future closure of their school.

He said he told them that instead of just eighth-graders, all the current students will move to the high school campus next school year, explaining that the change was due to financial reasons. This year’s fifth-graders, who normally would move to the middle school, will stay on for sixth grade at Humbolt Elementary.

“I encouraged them to ask teachers questions,” he said. “They’ve been good.”

So far, the list of concerns includes bullying, recess, lunchtime, lockers, how will athletics work, and who will be their teacher and principal.

Nash said bullying is the biggest worry for parents and students.

“We know of the concerns and want to protect the younger people,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nash talked about the change ahead for him, as he will become the principal of Humbolt Elementary School. Working as middle school principal would have been his preference, he said, adding that his work experience has been with middle school and high school students.

“I’m disappointed,” he said, “but I don’t think there is a bad administrative position in this school district.”

One helpful point from his experience at the middle school: “I know what the kids have and don’t have when they get here,” he noted.

He said he feels that the Mt. Vernon campus has provided a good, comfortable place for middle school students.

“We have a very caring staff,” he said.

“I’ve liked the middle school level,” he added. “These kids have different needs. It’s been a great challenge and opportunity to work with them and help them get to the next level.”

Language arts teacher Cindy Dougharity-Spencer said teachers are trying to keep the students from getting too stressed out about the change. Teachers also need to keep calm and focus on the job of instructing their students, she said.

“The mystery part of it has been the hard part,” she said. “Every day I have a student ask if I’ll be their teacher next year. They’re worried about it.”

Interviewed by the Eagle, several students talked about the closure of their school.

Eighth-grader Tyler Manitsas thinks it will be “somewhat weird,” but added the change won’t affect him much since he will be a freshman.

“Except it will be a lot more kids” at the high school, he said. “I’m going from the top of the middle school to the middle of the high school.”

Paige Johnson, also in eighth grade, said she wasn’t sure consolidation was such a good idea, adding that younger students might pick up on some of the high schoolers’ negative behaviors.

“I’ll miss this school because all of the eighth-graders make our best memories here,” she said.

Sixth-grader Quinton Bullock thinks “it’ll be fun,” but Dauna Bishop isn’t so sure.

“It’s a little scary and sad,” she said. “The teachers here are fun. It’s sad because we’re the last class that gets to come here (from Humbolt).”

Other sixth-graders added their thoughts:

Natalie Stearns said that going from Humbolt to the middle school to the high school is a lot of change.

“I wonder if next year we’re going to get recess,” she said. “It’s sad because the fifth-graders won’t get to come here and see what it’s like. I’m happy that I got to come here at least one year.”

Dustin Wright wishes fund-raisers could save the middle school.

“I thought we were doing just fine,” he said.

Eathin Rhinehart said he’ll regret the closure, as he’s enjoyed his year at Mt. Vernon and liked his teachers.

Reuben Nelson also views the change with regret.

“If I had my way I’d have everything the same. I’m going to miss the Mustang Pride. I’m going to miss the teachers and the principal. The person I’m going to miss the most is Mr. Nash because he’s fun. It will be sad when we leave here,” he said. “It’s going to be a shame.”   

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