To say the least, this has been a year of transition for Lakeridge Junior High School.

Just ask Janice Shokrian and Ravae Wilson, who share presidential duties on the LJHS Parent Club.

As a result of an April 2012 school board vote, last year Bryant Elementary School was closed, Waluga Junior High School was renamed Lakeridge Junior High School, and it and Lake Oswego Junior High School were reconfigured as middle schools.

So it was that in September, for the first time, the LJHS population included not just seventh- and eighth-graders, but sixth-graders as well.

The sixth-graders receive their core education in the former Bryant facility next door.

It has been Shokrian and Wilson’s ongoing task to help this group of students old and new and their parents form a strong community.

“We hit the ground running at the beginning,” recalled Wilson, who agreed to be Shokrian’s co-president when, just two weeks before the start of the school year, it was announced that the then-current president would be unable to continue.

“We had never worked together before,” Shokrian said, “But just hearing reports ... of communication with her committee members ... that inspired me, I said that’s somebody who I could really work with.”

Shokrian’s instincts turned out to be dead-on; both women say they are keenly attuned to one another’s needs, enabling each to boost the other’s productivity.

Taking the reins just before the new school year started, Shokrian and Wilson were on campus every other day, getting to know Lakeridge’s new principal and his administrative staff, so they all would trust each other enough to move forward with various projects to benefit LJHS.

The list is long.

Though the sixth-graders, for the most part, have been eager to integrate with their older peers, many parents have been reticent, concerned about of the potential for bullying and peer pressure.

Shokrian and Wilson acknowledge that there is a risk of getting involved with the wrong element during the middle school years, but said they’re taking steps to minimize it.

“I think the kids, on the most part, are more ready for it than the parents are, and that’s what I’m hoping will change in the next year too: that we’ll all figure out that this is really OK to have these kids here,” Wilson said.

“We really want to create an atmosphere of parents getting to know each other and ... coming together ... to help raise our children in a healthy and safe environment free of drugs,” Shokrian added, “And if they make lousy choices, there’s another parent ... that’s looking out (for them.)”

She and Wilson are planning to launch a series of educational seminars featuring a 15-minute update from the parent club followed by 45 minutes of a guest speaker like Lake Oswego Police Chief Don Johnson and time for Q&A, giving them insight about the menaces facing the modern student.

School-wise, there is plenty to be done, too, but the parent club needs money to do it. A financial boon came in the form of inclusion in Lakeridge High School’s recent auction; LJHS came away with a check for $50,000; $27,000 went toward purchasing and replacing school technology.

“For some reason,” Wilson said, “ when you put an iPad in a kid’s hands, the math comes easier. The math just flows. It’s the programs that they’re using for math, for writing ... it is their world, and we have to live within their world and give them the means to succeed in that world.”

Shokrian and Wilson are also starting a campus beautification effort, which they expect to extend long after their sole term.

But, Wilson said, “Our principal has just gotten in there from the ground up and I think what he has created, I think it’s pretty amazing, and I think that’s what’s most important: what goes on inside that school, the enthusiasm of the teachers and the administration. And I think the rest will follow.”

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