Many Haverford students know someone who attends the Lower Merion Public Schools. Lower Merion School District, currently serving 8,700 students, is opening a new middle school in Villanova in Fall 2022. The district currently has two middle schools, Bala Cynwyd Middle School and Welsh Valley Middle School, which are preceded by six elementary schools. The current middle schools include grades six through eight. The new school will reapportion some of those students into a third site to be named Black Rock Middle School for students in grades five through eight.
Commissioner Andy Gavrin, the Vice President of the Lower Merion Board of Commissioners and recently re-elected representative of Ward 6, the district in which Black Rock is being built, has been involved in the School Board’s decision process for the new middle school. The current Lower Merion middle schools educate 2,250 students, a number that some project to increase in the coming years.
“Both middle schools have faced over-crowding with insufficient space and higher student-to-teacher ratios than desired,” Gavrin said.
Board of Commissioners President and Ward 1 Commissioner Dan Bernheim said, “The school district ultimately elected to build a new school rather than add to the existing school in response to the community’s desire to limit class size[s],” Bernheim said.
Rising fifth through eighth graders living in parts of Penn Wynne, Ardmore, Gladwyne, Villanova, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford will be educated at the new Black Rock, which is set to open for Fall of 2022. While most LM schools follow traditional educational systems, the new school is designed to support what Gavrin refers to as “learning communities.”
“The space is designed to foster collaboration and socialization. The classroom spaces will be flexible to allow for smaller learning teams and small group discussions in addition to bigger classes,” Garvin said.
Students who attended Haverford’s lower school will relate to this learning structure. The lower school’s design features “pods” for each grade with tables for inter-class collaboration.
Although only the classes of 2025-2028 have had experience with Haverford’s new middle school building, which opened in Fall 2020, it too features collaborative learning spaces. The Learning Center is home to booths meant for collaborative learning ,and the space serves as a hub for students to meet on the seventh-grade floor, much like the socialization spaces that Gavrin says will be “the heart of the [new middle] school.”
Only three miles away from our campus, the new Black Rock Middle School and Haverford will be drawing from the same student populations. With a brand new space being introduced into the public school system equipped with many of the same features as two of our newest buildings, Haverford’s admissions team may compete for some of those students.