Welcome to Bloomington Junior High School!
You're a Knight, now.
Middle school is often viewed as the in-between phase. Bloomington Junior High School principal, Sherrilyn Thomas, said it is much more than that, especially at BJHS.
“This is such an important time in a child’s life. If we don’t support kids now, they’ll struggle. That's why we focus just as much on social and emotional support as we do on academics,” she said.
Mrs. Thomas said BJHS is a unique place because 1,200 students come together from six different elementary schools for the first time.
“We’re all about that diversity piece. For some students, it’s their first time interacting with kids who are different than them and they are exposed to the true culture and diversity of Bloomington,” she said.
All the Owls, Wolves, Tigers, Super Stars, Sharks and Mustangs are now Knights. A big part of helping new students adapt, said Thomas, is the team system.
“When you have a school this size, you have to give the students a chance to form an identity in a smaller group,” she said.
Sixth grade students are split into 7 teams that spell out “KNIGHTS.” Seventh and eighth grade students form three teams that spell “BJH.”
Each grade level team meets in roundtable daily for a check in with their homeroom teacher and to recenter.
"That time is a chance for students to work together, check in with their teacher, and hold each other accountable. It helps build community and addresses social and emotional learning," said Mrs. Thomas.
BJHS offers classes in foreign language, exploratory subjects, and advanced placement that count as high school credits.
“Our Arts For Life classes are unique for our level. Those offerings — world drumming, computer science, art — give students an opportunity to tap into to tap into their creative side,” said Mrs. Thomas.
There is also a club offered for every kind of passion, whether it’s poetry, video games, or gardening. The junior high student voices are highly respected at BJHS. Recently, student concerns shared with Mrs. Thomas were addressed in a meeting with administration and team leaders.
“Our staff is the hardest-working group,” said Mrs. Thomas. “The teaching and administrative staff work very collaboratively. I pride our staff on beingable to understand the needs of our students. I can’t imagine working with any other staff or age level.”
Outdoor Education in 7th grade
For over 45 years, seventh grade Knights have participated in Outdoor Education by spending a week in May at Camp Ingersoll near London Mills, Ill. Students are sorted into small groups called "families" with teacher leaders. With notechnology allowed, students sleep in tents, cook over a fire, build friendships, and complete activities like fishing, archery, and canoeing. An eighth grader who was an exceptional camper the previous year is selected to join each family as a junior staffer. Staff say the students leave camp refreshed and with new friendships they may have not formed otherwise.
Going Old School
BJHS was established in the former high school building at 510 E. Washington St. after BHS moved to its current location in 1959. Centennial School on Colton Ave. was built in 1957. That school was closed, partially torn down, and replaced with the current BJHS in 1990. The current junior high has a unique layout, including a courtyard in the center of the property, large common space that functions as a performance area and cafeteria, and large glass windows in the library with a view of BHS. The proximity of the junior high and high school is a benefit for students, often leading to collaboration and unique classroom partnerships.