BARSTOW • Principal Derrick Delton isn't looking at Barstow Junior High School's past.

He's gazing steadily at its future.

That's because Barstow Junior High School will be undergoing its own set of changes this fall, not the least of which is Delton himself taking the reins of a school which has, in the past, grown a reputation as an unruly campus.

While elementary schools will see larger class sizes this year, Barstow Junior High School's classrooms will actually be getting smaller.

The reason is twofold, according to Delton. First, about 200 fewer students have enrolled. Second, the school is getting six new teachers from Barstow Intermediate School, which was closed last school year.

Last year the average class size could get up to 40 students, Delton said. This year, he said, classes will have a maximum of 32 students.

One of the major issues the school will crack down on is tardiness, according to Delton. In fact, per Delton's request, the district built a new sidewalk and created an entryway leading up from the center of the school's semi-circle turnaround.

The new entrance, which will be the only access point during the school day, directs all students through the attendance office. The previous entrance, which was much wider, opened directly onto the middle of the campus.

Antoinette Holmeyer, a three-year member of the junior high's parent representative and advisory committee and the great-grandmother of a current seventh- and eighth-grader, said parents in the past have been concerned about safety at the junior high.

"Fights always worry me and, yes, I've seen a few there," she said.

With the intermediate school now gone, Barstow Junior High School will be playing an even bigger role helping students transition from elementary students to young adults by the time they reach high school, according to Delton.

"We bridge the gap on both sides..." he said.

At the same time, Delton said he will focus on getting parents to participate in their student's education as a way to curtail behavior issues.

"These are still kids ... we still need their parents involved to help nurture them," Delton.

While Delton acknowledged that the junior high school had issues ranging from test scores to staff professionalism to deal with, he said he was looking at the school's future because he didn't want to point fingers or lay blame by looking at the past.

The former principal of Cameron Elementary School — the largest elementary school in the district last year — became the junior high principal after district officials shuffled around a handful of school officials.

Barstow Junior High School enrollment continues Thursday from 8 to 9 a.m., and Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 to 3 p.m. in the multipurpose room.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4122 or elee@desertdispatch.com