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Athlon Sports' 2008 Preview of Mrs. Kirkland's 6th-8th Grade Homeroom

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Yeah, it's that time of year. 

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Math and Science. We know this group can put gold stars on the board. Now they have to prove they can do it without Kevin Polk, who led the homeroom in cross-multiplication of irregular fractions three years in a row. Seventh grader Courtney Drake and sixth grader Chase Stubblefield are the top two candidates to take the helm of the pre-algebra class. Even though he solved only eight basic equations in his Timberlake Elementary career, Subblefield arrives with the reputation as a gunslinger whose decision-making process is sometimes short-circuited by his supreme confidence and high blood sugar after brownie day in the cafeteria.


The good thing is that the transition from the Polk era will be eased by the presence of Abhinav Chandrasekharan, who came from nowhere to lead the period in As and homework average on only 15 assignments after transfering from Mrs. Rowan’s non-advanced class.


The rest of the surrounding cast, however, has question marks. Head lice decimated the science fair team in ‘07 and forced early appearances for several first-timers. Donovan Crabtree is the top returning distributor of baking soda and safety goggles after taking over for departed Amber McMahan as a sixth grader. The other returning members of the team, Danielle Hudson and Cody Marks, have parental assistance issues that leave their eligibility in question. The class failed to even turn in a project in 2005 and, though improved, could find itself facing a lame diorama if Crabtree doesn’t emerge as a leader.

Chandrasekharan and his Fall Formal date, who is definitely not in reality his cousin.
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Language Arts. The biggest loss in English is sentence-diagraming specialist Kincade Muir, a first-team honor roll selection in 2006 and 2007. But Kirkland is confident that Thahn Nguyen, Colin Graves and Patricia Koonce can provide a solid veteran presence in her unusual gerund-centric alignment. After failing to advance beyond prepositional phrases in 2006, the class seemed to show an improved understanding of interrogatives last fall.


The front row returns eighth graders Blake Renfro and Jeremiah Dunbar, honor roll performers despite their chatterbox tendencies, but there are potential problems elsewhere. In the back of the room, which has historically been a trouble spot, sixth grader Andrea Wallace, who originally committed to Mrs. Clifton’s class, could provide answers, although there will be several taller students in front of her. 


Extracurriculars. Once again the Kirkland homeroom was one of the worst classes in net spelling and early practice tests have yet to yield a clear anchor for the school-wide bee. Kirkland wasn’t satisfied with either Virginia Gould, last year’s fallback for multiple root origins, or backup Noah Abramson, who struggled with Latin diphthongs. The bee, along with the science fair, is one of the homeroom’s top concerns, as is the singing of Rhianna Weigand, whose voice cracked twice in her solo of “Let It Snow” in last December’s Nondenominational Winter Holiday Pageant.


The art class is among the best in Eisenhower Middle’s east wing. Renfro, a multi-purpose threat, earned As for his expert inclusion of X-Men characters in every assignment, and Alicia Mooney set a new school record for breathing through a straw while serving as the mold for the class’ terra cotta soldier mask made from plaster and newspaper.


Final Analysis. Last season could have been third period’s breakthrough year except the class was unable to overcome missing pages from storm-damaged copies of Holt, Rhinehart and Wilson Pre-Algebra, Second Edition. This year’s pre-algebra textbook, a third edition from Houghton Mifflin, includes the answers to every odd-numbered question in the back and should provide more of a successful outcome on state tests.


Renfro’s presence makes this a stronger homeroom in writing and drawing, and will add confidence. Kirkland’s authoritative approach and mid-lesson agility should also bring the younger students along quickly. A great nucleus of productive eight graders returns, so it’s not out of the question to think the class could push toward the top of the east wing. However, the lack of experience in physical science is likely to come into play down the stretch, when the class still must compete against tradition fair powerhouses from Clifton and Rowan homerooms. Still, if they can successfully navigate the early pop quizzes, and if Chandrasekharan picks up where he left off, Kirkland's class should make some noise in the east wing.