Sixth grade for BV Montessori

       In the 2012-2013 school year, Buena Vista Elementary will have its first sixth grade as a Montessori school.
       Principal David Brilliant said this week that five students have signed up - three from last year's fifth grade, along with two who are new to the school but have backgrounds in Montessori's hands-on style or a similar educational format.
       There will be no need for additional space or staff. The students will be absorbed into the existing Upper Elementary (grades 4-5) classes.
       Having a grade 6 was sought because it's “part of the Montessori model,” in which Upper El is actually 4-6, Brilliant said.
       At the end of the last school year he had expressed the hope that as many as 10 students from fifth grade would want to stay on for sixth; however, he'd also recognized that a large number of families were attracted to the option of students going to middle school with their friends.
       Adding sixth grade is part of a continuing BV effort to expand Montessori. Still being researched is the concept of starting a Montessori middle school that would also include grades 7-8.
       A BV parent, Michelle Vandepas, leads a committee of parents studying the issue. “We are looking at several possibilities and are not ruling out anything at this time,” she said in an e-mail. “We are partnering with several community resources to help us find the best fit (and are open to new possibilities).”
       A year ago, Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site was proposed to the district as a potential Montessori middle school site. The ranch is still “one of the locations we are interested in,” Vandepas said.
       The school had received approval for sixth grade from District 11 at the end of the 2010-11 year, but too late to attract any students at that time.
       Until the 1990s, all D-11 elementary schools were K-6. The district cut them back to K-5 as part of a decision to change junior highs (grades 7-9) to middle schools (grades 6-8).

Westside Pioneer article