by: REVIEW PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Robert Richard works on a math problem on an iPad.Like the preteens it educates, Lake Oswego Junior High has been going through a lot of changes this year, and LOJH Parent Club co-presidents Christi Kraus and Jake Mahar have all the details.

Last year, the Lake Oswego School Board voted to reconfigure the district’s two junior high schools to middle schools, making this year the first that a sixth-grade class has been part of the LOJH roster.

“I was really excited when it went to 6-7-8,” Mahar said. “High school’s tough as it is — now, you’ve got three years to get ready for that.”

Not just the number of grades are expanding for students, but also the tools used to educate them. Like many other schools in the district, LOJH has been integrating new technology into student curricula.

“We have, in the last year, created three carts of iPads — one cart of 30 per grade level. It’s fantastic,” said Kraus. “The math teachers and science teachers have been monopolizing iPads, which we think is great ... but language arts and social studies teachers haven’t had the same level of technology to support them, so we just purchased 60 Chromebooks and charging carts, two laptop carts so that ... every grade level has it.”

“Kids buy in more because it’s tech,” said Mahar. “The plus side is the results are instantaneous.”

Even with all the changes, he said, “It’s better than before — it gets better every year — but it’s still the same ... kind of like home. I’d have a real tough (time) moving and going to some other place.”

Next year, there will be a new class of sixth-graders, and the LOJH parent club is already hard at work preparing them for what comes next.

“This spring we will be visiting the grade schools that feed into our school so that we can explain the events coming up; we’ll have open house nights for fifth-graders that will be coming,” said Kraus.

But by all accounts, the transition should be a pleasant one.

“The kids and the parents are just happy to be here because it’s where they want to be ... they’re happy and they’re excited. The parents want them here for a reason: it’s just positive energy,” said Mahar. “It sounds dorky, but there really is positive energy up there of people ... in the community ... who want to be in the building and invest in it.”

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