BACK TO SCHOOL: New McCormick principal planning fall festival


First-year principal Nathan Baxendale is looking forward to welcoming 416 Dukes to McCormick Middle School on Aug. 30 and is planning a fall festival to put a stamp on the beginning of his tenure.

A tentative date for that event is Friday, Sept. 22, with possible activities including a karaoke competition at the Lindley Center for the Performing Arts and a bonfire.

Baxendale thinks his student population — 82 fourth-graders, 74 fifth-graders, 97 sixth-graders, 79 seventh-graders, and 84 eighth-graders — could use an event to call their own.

“We want this to establish a community event that’s a McCormick staple,” he said. “We want it to be something that will carry on for years and years and be something people look forward to.”

Watch for more details as they become available.

The Wellington board of education unanimously hired Baxendale on July 24. He comes to the district after serving as principal at Brunswick’s St. Ambrose School from 2014 to 2016, assistant principal at Fairlawn’s St. Hillary School during the 2013-2014 school year, and teaching history at Cleveland’s St. Joseph Academy from 2007 to 2013.

“I’m happy to be here with these kids and have a chance to keep this district moving,” he said. “This part of the school year is the boring part because the kids aren’t here. I think any educator, regardless of their experience, will tell you the kids are why they’re there.”

Official dates for state testing are yet to be determined, but the window to administer English and language arts exams begins March 26 and ends April 27. Math and science testing will come between April 2 and May 11. All McCormick students will take English and language arts exams but social studies testing for fourth- and sixth-graders has been done away with due to state budget cuts, Baxendale said.

Just before sitting down to talk with the Enterprise, Baxendale had been at a Kiwanis lunch where local groups discussed their experiences with educating students about drug dangers. The new principal said attendees spoke of 32 area families who’ve reached out for help with drug-related dilemmas.

“What is the best way to give a kid in fourth through sixth grade the same message you’re going to give to seventh and eighth grade?” he asked. “I don’t want to pretend to be an expert of drug awareness and prevention. You take what you know and use your other resources.”

Addressing other social ills is on Baxendale’s priority list.

Feelings of depression, one of the consequences of bullying, were recently gauged among area students by the Lorain County Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board. Among more than 2,231 participants, 23 percent of sixth-graders and 21 percent of eighth-graders reported feeling “sad and hopeless.”

Thirteen percent of sixth-graders and 14 percent of eighth-graders said they’d seriously contemplated suicide in the past year.

With bullying a concern at McCormick in previous years, Baxendale said a buddy system between eighth-graders and Wellington High School freshmen is in the works that could begin after Christmas.

“It starts from the top down as far as sending a consistent message of respect,” he said. “You don’t have to like everyone but you have to respect everyone. We’re going to preach the kindness, respect, and other aspects of the Golden Rule, but not without showing the kids how to be advocates for themselves. No one, kids or adults, has the right to make them feel scared or uncomfortable, especially in school.”

Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.

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New McCormick Middle School principal Nathan Baxendale is planning a fall festival and new measures to attack bullying for his first year on the job.
http://www.thewellingtonenterprise.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/25/2017/08/web1_IMG_9620.jpgNew McCormick Middle School principal Nathan Baxendale is planning a fall festival and new measures to attack bullying for his first year on the job.

Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise

Art teacher Tricia Farr prepares one of many craft items in store for students this year.
http://www.thewellingtonenterprise.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/25/2017/08/web1_IMG_9751.jpgArt teacher Tricia Farr prepares one of many craft items in store for students this year.

Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise

By Jonathan Delozier

jdelozier@aimmediamidwest.com