Sheri Samson
Principal Jeff Wales speaks with junior high students before cutting the ribbon on their new “Rocket” hallway at Mineral County High on the first day of school.

Years ago, as student enrollment was declining, the cost-saving decision to move the junior high school students to the Mineral County High School facility became a reality. This down-sizing basically combined two brackets of educational and social groups into the same structure and hallways. Most of the normal adjustment hurdles were ironed-out over the years, except for the feeling of exclusion, which most seventh and eighth graders would express.

After all, the entire building was named Mineral County High School. All the hallways were painted in Serpent colors of gold and black. Yellow lockers lined the long hallways of crowded movement, as mixed classes were stationed along differing corridors. It seemed that the junior high school kids were placed into temporary housing rather than experiencing their own unique, two-year program.

But this year changed the view and mindset for these younger students, thanks to a year of brainstorming changes from specific staff members and leadership. An influx of positive ideas, shared by all ages, was part of a program called “The Dream Team”, which quickly developed within the school staff. By enlarging the scope of input to include students, family members, and community leaders, these meetings were providing long-range solutions.

This began in the summer, as part of staff member Kathy Trujillo’s master degree, called The Capstone Project. It has now been determined that this program will be continued as a growing entity of affirmation. Positive incentives, leadership growth through mentorship and reinforcement of making good choices will guide a stronger learning structure within the school setting.

Walking into their first day of the 2017-18 school year, junior high students were met with their own, newly painted hallway of beige and “Rocket” blue. During the summer months, custodial staff members Marilyn Duncan and April Brogden painstakingly covered the existing black and gold-colored hallway, using repeated coats to create the atmosphere it is today. They were presented with “golden brushes” for their devoted work at the day’s ribbon- cutting ceremony on Monday, Aug. 21. Special mention was given to Gary Funk for his contribution in recreating the Rocket Man logo within the walls of the west-winged junior high school classrooms.

The hallway walls house framed pictures of prior-winning, junior high school sport teams honored by wins of the past. A glass case allows the junior high news to be posted. Mentors are named on an announcement sheet, alongside their assigned students which will allow a stronger buddy-system to build relationships within the year. These new students were encouraged to stay engaged in their school, using the resources available that would supply the support and direction surrounding their entire junior high experience.