Eighth grade joins high school, for now

Rachel Lester, Chief Layout Editor

By Rachel Lester, Chief Layout Editor

When the board announced the closing of the Shalhevet’s lower schools last March, it added that incoming eighth graders would be able to stay for their last year “because of the special needs of eighth graders” — presumably, that it would be unfair to make them start new schools in their last year of middle school. Many questions followed, and many were left wondering: will the grade would have a whole wing to themselves, or will they become pseudo-freshmen?

The fact is, for the most part it is still undecided what place the eighth graders will have in Shalhevet. According to Rabbi Yehoshua Gabbai, who was the Middle School Judaic Studies Principal throughout the 10 years of its existence and is in charge of the eighth grade this year, “There are so many issues still open.”

Director of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Debora Parks, who was General Studies Principal in the lower school, says they will be both part of the high school and on their own.

“There are big ways that they’re separated and there are some ways that they’re integrated,” said Dr. Parks, who was General Studies Principal in the lower school last year. “One way that they’re integrated is that their schedule is exactly the same except that they end after eighth period, and the high school has one more period.”

The eighth graders will have the same breakfast periods, lunches, and class lengths as the high school, as well as davening after a morning class — a first for them. Their times for Advisory and Town Hall will also match the high school, although the eighth graders will probably have their own, separate Town Hall, according to Dr. Parks, though this is not definite.

“But,” she continued, “we don’t want them to have two ninth-grade experiences, so that’s why we’re trying to tone it down a little for them so that when they come to ninth grade, it’s all new and special.”

Rabbi Gabbai will teach all the eighth grade Judaic classes, Jonathan Gilbert, formerly vice principal, will be teaching math, Morah Michal Davis will teach them Hebrew, Ms. Michelle Crincoli will teach their English and history classes, and Ms. Maria Rosales, who previously only worked in the high school, will teach eighth grade science. All of these teachers will be working in the high school as well.

One thing that seems to be certain is that the eighth graders will not be allowed to participate in the high school’s extracurricular activities. Having their own Town Halls will mean a separate Agenda and other committees, and rules  of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) state that sports players must be in ninth grade to compete.

There are possibilities of having eighth graders play on the junior varsity teams, however, and new Athletic Director David Paradzik says that  news on eighth-grade-only sports teams is to be announced. Dr. Parks and possibly Mr. Gilbert will be continuing E2K, or Excellence 2000, a program for problem-solving and higher-level thinking that was started in Israel, and it will only be offered to eighth graders.

“There might be a special program in the high school that warrants inviting the eighth graders, and that’s okay, they can come and join,” said Dr. Parks. “But I think for the most part they will be on their own.”