The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 17, 2014

Bridges to eliminate sixth grade in the fall

School becomes K-5 in advance of district restructuring


Beth and Jason Hanke have a fifth-grader, Anna, at Bridges this year, as well as a kindergartner and first-grader. Beth Hanke said their family was one of those to choose to send Anna to Garfield next year, prompted mostly by social considerations.

Hanke said most other elementary schools in the district send their sixth-graders to either Garfield or Franklin for sixth grade, where they get to know each other and form cliques before moving onto middle school. Hanke didn't want Anna to have to enter middle school as a new kid with so few peers from Bridges.

“Garfield does a good job of combining other schools at that time,” Hanke said.

For the most part, Hanke said Anna is excited for the change.

“It'll be hard. She'll go in knowing fewer kids than other students,” Hanke said.

Families have for years been sending their Bridges kids to sixth grade at Franklin or Garfield so that they become accustomed to larger class sizes and schools before starting middle school. Although, fewer families made that choice until this year.

“Because we're a choice school, parents know they have kids in a class of 24 and they would be moving to a middle school of upwards of 300,” Courrier said. “An average of five families would choose to go to (a larger) sixth-grade school to transition to middle school.”

Hanke said the number of parents who made that choice has varied over the years.

"I think some classes are stronger and more connected to each other. Last year's class, a lot of people chose to stay," she said.

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