FLINT (WJRT) (7/16/2019) - Flint's 7th and 8th grade students used to be spread out across four buildings in the Flint Community Schools district. But this year, when the school year starts on August 7th, they'll all be at what was Northwestern Preparatory Academy on Carpenter Road.
"Everybody knows the 12 and 13 year olds are probably the most difficult people to deal with in your houses, right?" Superintendent Derrick Lopez said. "We're gonna bring them together so that there can be a coherent model, so that we can prepare them and launch them into high school."
Which is why he said the new name of the school was no accident. It'll be called the Flint Junior High School.
"It is not a middle school, sort of holding pattern for kids," Lopez explained. "There's purpose and intent for them to begin to design their future selves at this junior high school."
Each student will use one of the Google Chromebook laptops donated to the district by celebrity engineer Elon Musk's foundation.
"So our teachers will have a cohort of kids with whom they will identify - about 125 kids with 6 teachers - to really sort of mentor and grow them and then loop with them to 8th grade," Lopez said.
He explained their education will be STEM-focused, with several project-based learning models included.
So why did he decide on Northwestern as their new home, rather than the original plan of re-opening Northern High School?
"$32 million is a huge amount of money to bring a building back online when you can actually build a brand new junior high school for $37 million," he said. "And so, just being good stewards of the district's money and resources just didn't make a whole lot of sense for us to put that into one building."
The Musk Foundation also donated water filtration systems for all 9 schools in the district. After a testing period, Lopez said those should be in use by January.