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Back in the swing

Tuesday marks first day of class as schools around Newport-Mesa try out new programs and gyms, and welcome fresh faces.

September 02, 2008|By Daniel Tedford

TeWinkle Middle School is really looking forward to the new school year. The school has been undergoing changes, physically and academically, over the past couple of years, and students seem to be getting the message.

Tuesday was the first day of school for Newport-Mesa Unified School District as children returned to their respective campuses after summer vacation.

For eighth-graders at TeWinkle Middle School, it was the beginning of the end of a long road. Students at TeWinkle know the school has had issues in the past concerning test scores and have seen one principal leave and a new one step in. For them, despite the controversy that has sometimes accompanied the school, the action has been well worth it.

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“I am looking forward to just getting the spirit back to TeWinkle,” 13-year-old Chad Fackler said. “We have been down in the dumps for a long time.”

TeWinkle educators and students have been trying to improve test scores since being sanctioned in recent years. Whether they have achieved the benchmarks needed will be seen later this week when the Academic Yearly Progress scores are released Thursday by the State Department of Education.

But students believe their school is more than its test scores. Most describe it as a fun place to be and are eager to see what new developments, like the new school gym, will bring.

“I don’t think we have ever had a big game before,” said Ahjanei Mitchell, who serves on the student leadership team with Fackler.

“We have never had a home game,” Fackler said.

The school is also working on creating an activity room on campus that would allow students the space and time to study after school while also being around their friends — an important asset, according to student leaders.

“We can be eager to learn,” Kenia Laura, 14, said. “We can come here, have fun, but still be good at school.”

For 13-year-old Alexis Paul, being a student leader at TeWinkle isn’t a simple task, but the goal isn’t hard to imagine.

“I really want to help the school,” she said. “To make the kids happy.”

Ensign Intermediate School was also in the midst of making changes on its campus for the 2008-09 school year. A new program called CHAMPS was started to help improve communication between students and teachers.

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