River Bend Middle School Principal Bennett P. Lacey welcomed 20 new teachers to his staff this school year to accommodate an influx of students. On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the Sterling school opened with approximately 1,100 students, 40 more students than the Loudoun County Public Schools Department of Planning’s 2006-2007 projections.
"We’re quite a bit bigger than last year," Lacey said.
In 2002, the school opened with 1,170. Over the next three years numbers decreased slightly. Now, there are almost 400 students in the sixth-grade alone, Lacey said.
Lacey said he was surprised at the increased number of students at River Bend this year. This is something typical of Ashburn schools where new houses are going up and apartments are being built, he said. But Sterling is already developed.
"We’re not sure where they came from," he said.
In addition to new teachers and students, Lacey is excited about a new program being offered to all Loudoun County sixth-graders, Spanish at the Middle School Year. This class will give sixth-graders a taste of the language at an early age. Next year, River Bend Middle School will offer seventh-graders Spanish I.
This year, Lacey’s main goal is to improve state math test scores for sixth- and seventh-graders.
"This year was disappointing not only at River Bend, but across the county," he said. "We want to improve the scores. This is going to be my focus."
The principal said he also plans on nurturing the 20 new teachers there.
"We want them to do their best job the first year here," he said. "We want a successful year."
Students will not only be challenged in the classroom, but on stage as well. In the spring, Lacey said students will be performing "Peter Pan," a show the school’s drama department had problems getting the rights to in the past. In the past, students performed in Broadway plays like "Bye Bye Birdie," "Hello Dolly," "The Whiz" and "42nd Street."
"We put on full-blown Broadway shows here," he said. "Parents can expect an extravaganza this year."