WEST ORANGE, NJ - West Orange Seventh and Eight grade Middle Schools, Liberty Middle School and Roosevelt Middle School, have many identical commonalities, yet each also possesses its own personality and flavor.

Tap into West Orange sat down with Principal Bob Klemt and Assistant Principal Aixa Garcia of Liberty and Principal Lionel Hush and new Assistant Principal Marc Lawrence of Roosevelt to talk about the new school year. Each school will see new faces based on new hires and transfers within the district.

Both schools are entering into their second year of seven periods, each comprised of five 55-minute academic classes and a 26 minute lunch. This includes Reading or HAP (High Aptitude Placement) in Seventh grade and a World Language in Eighth (Spanish, French, Chinese and Italian). Odd/even days will continue for Tech Ed and Related Arts.

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Students will continue with Connected Math; Honors math students will take advanced Algebra and regular students will take Pre-Algebra in seventh grade and Algebra in eighth.

Liberty and Roosevelt offer baseball, softball, track, basketball, wrestling and cheerleading in Interscholastic and Intramural levels, as well as several clubs and activities.

The school day will begin at 8:10 am and end at 2:53 pm.

Liberty Middle School

Liberty Middle School Principal Bob Klemt and Assistant Principal Aixa Garcia are excited to see the new school year begin.  After a very successful 2013-2014 school year, they are ready to welcome 211 seventh graders and 238 eighth graders back to school on September 4.

Seventh graders will be split into Team Silva and Team DeMeo while eighth graders will be part of Team Martino or Team Zaccaro.

“Our ‘Reading  Around the World’ program this summer was a big success,” said Klemt, beginning his twenty-sixth year as an educator. Liberty Staff took ‘free book’ cards with them and placed them in vacation locales around the world. “We’re still getting responses,” he noted, “including one from Michigan and two from upstate New York.”

Garcia, entering her fourth year in the district as Assistant Principal, lauded the Anti-Bullying Ambassadors program with teacher Valerie Gino, unique to the middle schools. A new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) club, including work with robotics, was set to begin.

Opened in early 2007, Liberty Middle School is the newest school in the West Orange School district. Children from Redwood, Pleasantdale, Mt. Pleasant, and part of Washington, attend Liberty.  Short of ongoing maintenance and repair, no major building projects were required over the summer.

Roosevelt Middle School

Built in 1932, Roosevelt has required a lot of capital improvement projects over the past year including roof replacement, HVAC repairs, and new boilers. Students will return to Roosevelt to find this summer’s project – a brand new gym floor, in place and ready for use.

Principal Lionel Hush, who took the helm from Frank Corrado after his retirement in 2011, was busy at work with new Assistant Principal Marc Lawrence preparing for the start of school. They are expecting 247 new seventh graders and 272 returning eighth graders.

Students from Hazel, Gregory, St. Cloud and part of Washington School attend RMS.

“The past year brought a lot of changes,” said Hush, noting the new schedule, new programs and teacher evaluation system. “We are continuing to work hard and keep moving forward.”

Lawrence, who has been the K-12 Social Studies Supervisor for the district for the past few years, was excited to work with Hush, the teachers and the students. “I’m really looking forward to working at the building level,” he said.

“I’m happy to have the opportunity to have a hands-on experience with the students and help to prepare them for high school.”

Both Klemt and Hush discussed impending PARCC testing for seventh and eighth graders.  “The kids are more technology and computer proficient in seventh and eighth grade,” said Klemt, “but they have to learn the new (PARCC) test-taking system.”

Klemt also made mention of home-based PARCC practice stating, “The NJ Department of Education has a PARCC website that parents and students can access.”

For Hush, whose seventh graders were part of two pilot PARCC testing programs in math earlier this year, his concern was the actual computer glitches experienced during the testing process. “Students were booted out, timed out and became distracted as a result,” he noted.  “We have to focus on preparing students to know the material, work on our computers, and learn the test-taking system.”

(Editor's Note: This is the Third in a series of Back to School articles featuring the 7-8 Grade Middle Schools. Next up: What to Expect in the Elementary Schools.)