Change abounds at Eagle Valley Middle School |

Change abounds at Eagle Valley Middle School

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer

When the first bell rang at Eagle Valley Middle School, eighth-grader Leah Barris, 13, ambled to her homeroom just a few steps behind her classmates – hoping not to set a bad example for the incoming sixth-grade class by being late on the first day of school.

Strapped in a black walking cast Velcroed tight from her kneecap to big toe, Leah smiled as she told a handful of classmates that the cast didn’t affect her summer.

“We waited till the end of the summer – I had surgery to strengthen my Achilles last Monday,” she said. “But I wish I didn’t have to wear this cast for the first day of school.”

For much of the day, Principal Chad Linden’s red swivel chair was left empty as he toured the halls of the school for the first time this year – marveling at the too-clean classrooms and scrubbed up new staff clad in their back-to-school duds.

Linden – ID badge swinging loosely from his lanyard, squeaking through administration in a freshly shined pair of brown loafers, traversing the hallways picking up nary a piece of ABC gum on his sole – unapologetically gave an optimistic prediction for the year ahead.

“I guess no matter what, we’re focusing on being thoughtful about the changes we make in the classroom and the changes the students go through,” he said. “We like to pace the year out – not everything can be done in a day. But it’s the first day, and that’s a start.”

Sixth-grader Kandis Tuttle, 11, said she was looking forward most to being able to switch classrooms, and having the opportunity to take a more advanced science class.

… Her father is the eighth grade science teacher.

“Oh, I have him,” said eighth-grader Taylor Goodale, 13. “I heard his class is really good.”

Kandis’ classmates started the day with a tour of the middle school. New freedoms were spread before them, from an expanded cafeteria menu to their first lockers.

“There’s a lot of people I recognize from fifth grade and a lot I don’t know,” Kandis said. “It’ll be an interesting year – a good one.”

For others, the start of the school year sets the stage for a long farewell.

“I think we’re all looking forward to being in high school,” said eighth grader Alyssa Morton, 13. “This year, we have to work harder to graduate.”

• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at or 882-1219.