Freshman Academy Opening for Van Buren Students

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Doors at Van Buren High School's Freshman Academy will open in less than three weeks, bringing ninth graders from the two junior highs together.

"It's just around the corner. We're very excited," said Principal Lisa Miller. "The teachers come back on the 13th, and the students come back on the 20th. I'm ready. I want them coming back now. I'm excited for them to get here."

Students had mixed feelings about the new academy after they found out about it last year.

"You know, for a while there, it was kind of...you didn't know what was real. What was true, and what wasn't. You just heard things," said student Katja Wiederkehr, who will be attending the Freshman Academy.

She said her friends are very anxious about the school year starting. 

Her mom Melissa Wiederkehr used the words "nervous" and "excited" to explain her thoughts about the new school.

"I was apprehensive at first. But I definitely see some of the benefits for having the ninth graders in a campus of their own, and I think there are going to be a lot of fun opportunities for them.”

Miller said the academy will create new opportunities for freshmen to learn about who they are, and set goals for themselves before moving on to high school.

"The focus tends to be on seniors and graduation... and now we want to set the goals and have kids create that vision and mission for themselves that will propel them through high school and beyond to college and career,” explained Miller.

To make sure students have the attention they need during the school year, Miller has split the school up into four teams. Each team will be made up of about 135 kids, who will have the same core teachers.

Students will learn which team they are on at freshman orientation at the school at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 14. They will also get their schedules and school supply lists then.