Sixth-graders are gearing up for some big changes in Worthington Schools after next school year.

Starting with the 2021-22 school calendar, our sixth-grade students will be moved to our renovated middle schools to alleviate the overcrowding of our elementary schools while also broadening the scope of our sixth-grade opportunities.

The school district has developed the Middle School Master Schedule Team that consists of district administrators, elementary school principals, middle school principals, deans of students, middle school teachers (math, Spanish, band, orchestra, choir, gifted and wellness teachers, as well as an intervention specialist) and three sixth-grade teachers.

This committee looked at the best interests of the students by conducting research on potential schedules, reviewing strengths and weaknesses of current schedules and reviewing specific challenges in student scheduling. The committee benchmarked with several other districts using SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. The team considered parameters such as staffing, space, recess and wellness electives.

This process also has included the review of our Learner's Profile.

We value the development of a connected community of learners: solution seekers, global thinkers, resilient learners and kind and empathetic friends. The district carefully considered the effects of this change on each component of the profile. We will promote and integrate this profile into the curriculum and culture of the school. This month, the team presented its plan to the school board.

Integrating sixth-graders into the middle schools will give these students access to several additional electives, allowing students to investigate areas of music, visual arts, media and engineering design in their two allotted elective periods. A uniform schedule across the three grade levels at each building will provide opportunities for students to access above-grade-level content and to maximize their academic potential.

Student wellness also is an important part of this change. All our students will take one semester of wellness classes during their time in middle school.

Our sixth-grade students also will continue to have both lunch and recess, allowing these students a time to reset and continue to reap the benefits of physical activity.

An "assist" time also will be integrated into every sixth-grade schedule. This period will provide assistance from classroom teachers in core-content areas, offer time for students to complete homework and develop organizational habits, and be used to build a positive community.

We will continue to communicate and support students and staff members through this transition.

Although we are more than 15 months away from the changes, we soon will hold meetings at each elementary school to discuss the middle school schedule and transportation to middle school. We also will touch on how school traditions will be affected by sixth-graders moving to middle school.

This is a big change for our community, but with this great change, we anticipate positive outcomes.

Trent Bowers is superintendent of Worthington Schools. Write to him at tbowers@wscloud.org.