By Mr. Patrick K Hodges (Fort Knox news)July 31, 2019
Fort Knox Community Schools' administrators, teachers and staff are preparing to kick off the new school year Aug. 5 and introduce several new changes.
Perhaps the most sweeping change is the reconfiguration of the each school's grade levels. Van Voorhis and Kingsolver Elementary Schools are now Pre-K through 4th grade, Scott Middle is now an intermediate school and has only 5th and 6th grades, and Fort Knox High School has integrated middle school students and now offers grades 7-12.
Department of Defense Education Activity Kentucky Community Superintendent Dr. Youlanda Washington said the new grade structure came about in part because of overcrowding at Kingsolver and lack of usable space at Van Voorhis.
"We thought if we could decrease the capacity at the elementary schools and come up with and intermediate concept, that would help our children and staff," she said.
The recently named Fort Knox Middle/High School added a $24.3 million annex, completed June 28, giving it the space required to accomedate 7th and 8th grade students.
The new addition features several environmental friendly features to include filtered water dispensers, so students can refill reusable bottles; rain water collection systems to water gardens; renewable construction materials. About 70% of the school's light also comes from natural sources.
The annex utilizes the 21st Century classrooms concept and features learning neighborhoods and hubs designed to allow students to learn in both classroom settings as well as collaborative spaces.
Additionally, new and dedicated band, choir and art rooms comprise some of the electives areas that will be shared by middle and high school students.
The new school will also enjoys a new performing arts auditorium, allowing drama courses for the first time in more than a decade.
FKMHS Principal Lonnie Gilmore said that while the middle and high schoolers will now be in the same school, they will have limited interaction, with the exception of some electives. He said that one of the biggest concerns parents had with the new concept was keeping students separate and protected.
"All of our middle school core classes are within close proximity of each other, away from the high school classes," Gilmore said. "They will also have a separate lunch and provisions in the gymnasium for dressing and changing."
The middle/high school combination also aids in the education of some middle schoolers.
"This is not the first [middle/high school] model in DODEA," said Washington. "Once we saw that it was a perfect fit and our middle school children would be exposed to more high school courses such as the world languages, any of the maths and a few Englishes, we decided to go ahead with that model."
For Fort Knox seniors interested in a career in firefighting, FKMHS is partnering with the Fort Knox Fire Department to offer a Junior Fire Department Program.
"After completion of the courses, a student will be able to graduate and get a job with a fire department," said Gilmore. "Those classes will be taught here [by Fort Knox firefighters] on our campus during the school day."
Kingsolver is welcoming a new assistant principal, Dr. Jeff Pond, coming from Wiesbaden, Germany. Washington said "Pond has a record of creating strong partnerships with families and communities, which makes him a great selection for our community. He also has a deep appreciation for teaching and learning and is a strong advocate for students."
Also starting this year, Kingsolver is implementing the widely-used Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program. The program focuses on providing clearly defined expectations to students and teachers, rewarding students' positive behaviors and intervening and working with children exhibiting negative behaviors before problems arise.
"We have three expectations -- be safe, be responsible, be respectful," Kingsolver Principal Laura Gibson said. "You teach what that looks like in different environments -- in the cafeteria, media center, in the gym, and at assembly … If a student is having difficulty, we refocus them on what's expected."
Van Voorhis Elementary has reformatted its breakfast in the classroom program it piloted in 2018. Last year, students received their food and ate in the classroom. This year, students will get and pay for their food in the cafeteria, then bring it back to the classroom to eat.
According to Washington, this will be the first time in its history that Scott has served as an intermediate school. However, other than the fact it will now only offer 5th and 6th grades, it will be business as usual.
Parents can expect to receive letters or emails this week including detailed information about open houses and their children's respective schools.
Fort Knox Emergency Services Deputy Director Kevin Kusak reminded everyone at a July 30 Fort Knox Community Information Exchange to be aware of children walking to school and utilizing cross walks as school will soon be back in session.
He said speeding really doesn't save that much time and may actually lead to additional delays.
"If you were driving for a � mile at 25 miles per hour and you drove 10 miles per hour faster than the speed limit, how much time do you think you're saving -- it's 10 seconds," said Kusak. "If there's someone there in a patrol car, how much extra time do you think it will take them to fill out that ticket? And the cost of the ticket can be doubled in a school zone."
Kusak added, "Please be careful, there are a lot of kids that walk to school and we'd like to ensure their safety."
For more information on FKCS and school-specific contact information, visit www.dodea.edu.