May/Jun
2013

Fifty Years Never Looked So Good

Written by Debi Neville
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Kellogg Middle School celebrates the half-century mark

The doors of Frank B. Kellogg Middle School in northeast Rochester first opened in late fall 1962 to a flood of seventh through ninth grade students. Known then as Kellogg Junior High, the building was designed for 1,200 students on 17 acres and built for only $13.81 per square foot (which included cost of equipment).

Tucked into a wooded hill, it still glistens inside and out and is now home to about 900 students grades six through eight.

REMEMBERING THE PAST
“I was just a young teacher when I took a position here, at Kellogg,” recalls Karen Larsen, a retired classroom teacher and counselor. “I love Kellogg—it’s like my second family.”

Having been part of the staff from 1970 to 2002, walking the halls brings back some astute observations for Larsen.

“We used to have a pretty small staff. The inclusion of special education brought an abundance of additional teachers and paraprofessionals,” she recalls. “Technology was the second biggest change I saw. My goodness, we never even had a phone capable of dialing out of the building when I started here. Now there’s a multitude of technological advances to use and deal with.”

Much has changed, but some things remain constant. “Overall, kids are still kids. You have to love them,” Larsen notes with a smile.

Meghan Peterson attended Kellogg and graduated from Century High School in 2009. Now a math major at Gustavus Adolphus College, she is student teaching at Mayo High School.

“When I think back on my years at Kellogg, one word comes to mind: friends,” Peterson says. “I made good, lifelong friends. Everyone was friendly—my fellow students, the teachers and staff. It was a terrific experience which has inspired me to become a teacher.”

Peterson remembers a sense of community, doing class projects as a team, working on the yearbook and playing in the orchestra (something she hopes will never be omitted by budget cuts).

“I know budget cuts have created a different curriculum, but quality in education will always be a priority, I believe, at Kellogg.”

CELEBRATING THE PRESENT
Eighth-grader Zakia Moore loves being a Kellogg Middle School student.

“I look forward to school each day. It’s a pleasant building, clean and bright. That’s important. Kellogg has a positive atmosphere. We are pushed to do well, and the students and teachers are really friendly,” says Zakia.

Zakia’s favorite subject is English, and she likes the relatively small class sizes.

“I think there are about 30 kids in most of my classes. We are pretty competitive with other schools our size,” she says.

You can hear the pride in Teresa Fox’s voice while sitting in her English classroom chatting about “today’s” Kellogg Middle School: “I’ve taught here for 12 years, and I think we do a great job of keeping up to date with technological changes, developments in philosophy of education, parental involvement—all the elements which make a good education,” explains Fox.

Today’s student body reflects more children living at the poverty level and more with English as a second language, which Fox sees as a challenge for everyone.

“Kellogg has a great parent group,” she adds. “It’s very important to involve parents in their children’s education. We are able to correspond via email directly with the parents, and they can check in at any time and see how their Kellogg student is doing.”

Co-teaching is something that is now available, and Fox readily sings its praises: “By having a reading teacher, for instance, in the classroom co-teaching with me, kids are not pulled out of the class for help. And all the students benefit from that specialized assistance.”

BIG BIRTHDAY BASH
Bruce Rodgers, eighth-grade social studies teacher and 50th Anniversary Committee chairman, was planning to celebrate the milestone birthday with a little get-together on Friday, May 17.

“I’m afraid I’ve created a bit of a monster,” he says with a laugh. “I sent out a few feelers [about the event], and people are coming from all over the United States. Now, it involves an all-out social hour and dinner for retirees paid for by the Rochester Teacher’s Association. The public is invited to an open house—we will have the National Guard representatives here, dignitaries are sending messages of congratulations, there’s a live band, old videos and the library is being turned into a museum.”

The walk-down-memory-lane celebration is being supported entirely by private donations and will include the opportunity to peruse old annuals, newspaper clippings, pictures and awards. Connecting with old friends and swapping stories of “back when” will mix well with new students and staff, says Rodgers. Guests will even get a sneak peek at a 2013 capsule Kellogg is assembling.

“Rochester has changed so much,” says Rodgers. “When this building was built, we were on the northern border of Rochester. I think Kellogg Middle School represents how well people and institutions can adapt and reflect change and still look pretty darn good.”

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