Of all the potentially intimidating situations students face in going from elementary to middle school, lockers rank right up there, Diane Agnes said.
They worry about remembering the lock combinations and getting them to work so they won't be late for class, said Agnes, principal at historically overcrowded Woodward Park Middle School on Karl Road.
When the 2017-18 academic year begins Aug. 23, Agnes also will oversee operations of an annex to the main building. It will be for sixth-graders only.
Woodward Park at Walden, located in the Northland-area property formerly leased by Marburn Academy, has lockers, Agnes said, but it won't have all those seventh- and eighth-graders with years of locker experience.
Columbus City Schools is taking the building at 1860 Walden Drive back into the active fold after it served for more than two decades as a private school for students with learning differences.
The move, Agnes said, enabled Woodward Park Middle School to say farewell to 13 modular classrooms that had been learning space for as many as 375 students.
Two classes of seventh-graders will move back into the main building, as will the English as a Second Language program, Agnes said.
All sixth-graders will go to Woodward Park at Walden. Agnes said she anticipates it will have between 330 and 350 students.
"It gives the kids kind of a real building to be in, and their own building," Agnes said.
The main building will serve about 600 students.
Tiffany Brandt, who has taught at Woodward Park Middle School for nine years, will be among those working in the new location.
"I am excited that it will be sixth-grade only," she said. "That is a tough age, when you still want to be a kid, but when surrounded by kids who are even just a couple of years older than you, the need to grow up happens a lot faster.
"Being able to take that group of kids and form that family, and this is the inaugural group at Walden and the only group of students in the district segregated by a grade level, I think that is so exciting."
"The teachers are really excited," Agnes said. "They are excited to have a brick-and-mortar building, but there's a lot of excitement about building the program from the ground up. They're getting a chance to start fresh, start new.
"I have heard nothing but positives from the parents I have spoken to."
Brandt is excited at the prospect of the incoming sixth-graders having the opportunity to transition into a new type of education.
"They're too old to be in with kindergartners but they're not there yet with seventh- and eighth-graders," she said. "They will still get to be kids and we can keep them kids for as long as possible."
"Some of them have only had one teacher for all of their academic subjects," Agnes said. "It gives them another year to mature."
And to master those pesky lockers.