Lewis F. Cole Middle School has flourished as a stepping-stone to high school for over 60 years. Each year, we build upon successful programs and add to our list of new accomplishments through the infusion of innovative activities and teaching strategies. The professional teaching staff and administration at the middle school take pride in developing students who are succeeding academically at each new level of learning, while incorporating the character elements needed to foster civic responsibility and good citizenship. Our large and culturally diverse school population continues to strive for excellence at every academic and social level. At the same time, we have been able to maintain a positive community profile, which embraces the spirit of volunteerism and intergenerational activities.
We continue to offer a comprehensive program of content studies. While accelerated programs in Geometry, Algebra and Language Arts meet the needs of our gifted and talented students, our basic skills programs help struggling students meet levels of proficiency. Special education teachers are able to fully accommodate students’ needs in a regular classroom setting through collaborative teaching programs. The library’s technology lab helps to supplement existing middle school programs and prepares middle school students for the rigorous demands of our high school.
Last year, our grade 8 students were mainstreamed with Algebra 1 for the first time. This was a large undertaking that our teachers worked extremely hard at to make sure our curriculum and instruction was aligned to all state standards. This task proved to be highly successful, which was evidenced by our Algebra 1 PARCC scores. On average, our students scored almost 50 points higher than the state and national averages for Algebra 1. This not only compared us to middle schools across the state and nation, but also high schools that took the Algebra 1 PARCC. This is a strong testament to the power of our teachers and the commitment they have made towards the academic success and advancements of our students.
Our science team also prepared over the last two school years for the implementation of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This new curriculum is in place for the 2016-2017 school year. Our students will now be spiraled throughout grades 7 and 8 with Life, Physical and Earth sciences. This is different from years past where only one realm of science was covered. The classroom activities are now more designed to be hands-on with labs and interactive units. Technology-based programs will also be used to create simulations and models that support learning in a three-dimensional atmosphere. We are excited about the new science standards and know they will better prepare our students to think critically.
Along with the arts and sciences, we offer a wide range of clubs and activities for our students to get involved in after school hours. Intermedia, our school’s literary and fine arts magazine, consistently wins Gold and Silver Crown awards for its outstanding publication. We also offer a yearbook club, student council, peer mediation team, bias busters club, math team, foreign language club, computer club, after-school band, after-school choir, after-school bells ensemble, Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.), and after-school intramurals. We also forged our path towards establishing middle school athletics by adding a Girls Volleyball team and a Girls Soccer team. This will be third year for our Girls Volleyball team and second for our Girls Soccer team, and we are confident that our student athletes will remain competitive throughout the Fall season. Our commitment to our students’ growth goes way beyond the classroom and reaches out for social and emotional belonging.
One of the major character education initiatives implemented last school year was the introduction of our Student Ambassadors program. This program selects student leaders to promote anti-bullying and respect messages throughout our student body. They were heavily involved in the implantation of our “Bridgemen Bucks” program, which rewards students for doing kind deeds. When a student is observed doing something kind towards others, he/she is awarded a Bridgeman Buck and then entered into a weekly raffle. The students are then entered into monthly and annual drawings to win bigger and better prizes. This program also won us the New York Jets “Stomp Out Bullying” contest that granted 50 students and teachers with Jets football tickets. It also came with a visit from Jets players and executive staff to deliver a student assembly with the theme of anti-bullying. We are proud of our student ambassadors and the positive message they bring to us throughout the school year.
This year, we will also begin construction to the four-story addition that will bring grades 5 and 6 to us in September 2018. This will free up much needed space in our four elementary schools and house our 5-8 curricula for all subject areas in one house. This is an exciting new adventure that will bring approximately 32 new classrooms, a new cafeteria, new gymnasium and new office space.
Our curriculum is consistently being modified to meet the individual needs of our students. This year, we were directed by the New Jersey Department of Education to move away from the title of Common Core Curriculum Standards and rename them New Jersey Student Learning Standards. It is always our goal to revise our curriculum so that it remains a living, breathing document which provides guidance and resources for teachers, students, and parents alike.
This is also the second school year of our 1:1 Google Chromebook initiative. All 7th and 8th grade students are issued a Chromebook in order to support their studies and academic growth. Our teachers are being further trained and developed in the use of Google Classroom and provide our students with a virtual medium to submit and receive assignments. We are proud of our technological growth over the last four school years that has brought interactive projectors to all classrooms and offices. This is also the first school year for our media center’s Makerspace and digital studio. Our students are excited about venturing into the STEAM fields and moving towards a more engineering designed approach to their free time.
As a community, we are committed to moving LFCMS forward. It is our goal to further reinforce an already strong academic program that will prepare our students to be future communicators, analysts, and synthesizers of knowledge. All students must become critical thinkers, life-long learners, and contributing members of our community. We always take pride in our work and look forward to assisting all students in their academic and social challenges.
Lewis F. Cole Middle School