Starting in the 2022-23 school year, Cactus Canyon Junior High School, 801 W. Southern Ave. in Apache Junction, will expand enrollment to include students in the sixth grade.
Currently the school is open to seventh and eighth grade students.
The Apache Junction Unified School District Governing Board made its decision on the change and voted on March 22 to approve the inclusion of sixth grades at CCJH.
While the unanimous vote made it official, planning for the inclusion of sixth graders at the junior high has been in the works for months as CCJH Principal Kenneth deLoera and other AJUSD administrators conducted research and analysis to weigh risks and benefits regarding the possible move.
The change, which is consistent with many other school districts of similar size — including Flagstaff Unified School District — offers a number of advantages for incoming sixth graders including the opportunity to take more electives, participate in sports and access to more student wellness programs.
Increasing the time from two to three years at the junior high school also gives students more time to acclimate at the school before moving on to high school in ninth grade.
“I am looking forward to working with the three grade levels next year,” deLoera said in a letter to parents. “As an administrator, I am very passionate about providing a quality education for all students and will work to meet your expectation.”
In an effort to better inform parents and students about student life at CCJH, the school hosted two events prior to when students will be making their official selections for their electives at their respective schools.
CCJH emphasizes a well-rounded education where academics, sports and extracurricular activities allow students to grow scholastically, physically and emotionally. CCJH students can get a head start on funding their college education by signing up for Pinal Promise in junior high. The program offers a tuition-free education at Central Arizona College for those who fulfill the requirements and graduate from participating high schools in Pinal County such as Apache Junction High School.
Editor’s note: Sally Marks is the public relations specialist for Apache Junction Unified School District.
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