December 2021 - Volume 5
Excitement is building toward the September 2022 opening of the Lower Merion School District’s new middle school. In October, the Board of School Directors officially approved the name “Black Rock Middle School” for the new school, which will serve students in grades five through eight from the Penn Wynne and Gladwyne catchments.
Board member Shayna Kalish, who chaired the naming task force, explained that the Board members, administrators, parents/guardians and staff members chose the name in recognition of the distinct formations of black rocks in the area that the indigenous Lenape people used to make tools and other implements.
Map depicting the territory of the Lenni Lenape along the eastern seaboard.
Once the name was approved, Black Rock Middle School Principal Sarah Stout worked with student ambassadors who will attend the school to identify a mascot to represent characteristics they hope will define the school’s culture. The students presented their top-five choices to the School Board and to their peers. Then, all the students who will attend BRMS voted for their favorite.
The winning mascot was The Royals, with the school colors being black and gold with purple accents. The students said The Royals reflect qualities including strength, being welcoming to all, being smart and being spectacular. They also liked that their mascot goes well thematically with the Bala Cynwyd Knights and the Welsh Valley Dragons. Ms. Stout will soon begin work with a designer to create the official Royals logo, after which items such as athletic uniforms and school gear can be ordered.
Also in October, LMSD’s new superintendent, Dr. Khalid N. Mumin, visited the Black Rock Middle School construction site with Ambassadors selected from the current sixth and seventh graders who will be among the school’s first students.
Dr. Mumin, Principal Stout and a group of the Black Rock Middle School Ambassadors.
It was the first time both the students and Dr. Mumin visited the new school, but it was a homecoming of sorts for Dr. Mumin, who started his higher education journey at the site when it was Northeast Christian Junior College. Guided by one of the building’s architects and the project manager, the students, Principal Stout and Dr. Mumin walked from one end of the building to the other – seeing highlights such as the “gathering stairs,” dining hall, courtyard, auditorium, library and gymnasium spaces, and the flexible “learning communities,” where teams of students can gather in large labs and classrooms, or small “nests” to learn and collaborate in different size groups for different projects.
You can watch a video of the tour here:
Work is also moving forward on other aspects of preparing the school for opening.
In November, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Alexis McGloin, Elementary Curriculum Director Dr. Jennifer Gaudioso and Ms. Stout shared updates on the curriculum and scheduling work going on to reimagine the school day for students in grades K-4 and in grades 5-8, as all the elementary and middle schools will transition to those grade structures in September. You can read more about that work here.
Staffing planning is also underway. Current LMSD staff were surveyed about their preferences for grades and schools where they would like to work next year. In the coming weeks, administrators will consider the survey results as they work to assign personnel across the six K-4 elementary schools and the three 5-8 middle schools for next year, taking into account the needs of students and the reimagined curriculum. The Human Resources Department is also beginning recruitment efforts for the upcoming school year, with an eye toward increasing diversity among all the schools’ excellent staff, so that every student sees adults in their building with whom they can identify. This is a complex process, but all of the principals and District administrators are committed to working together to create the best outcome for students.