Penn State ... Notre Dame ... Claymont High
... Salesianum ... P.S. du Pont ... Hanby Middle
So it's a
stretch to list a middle school in such company. But, in the
nearly 40 years it has been providing pre-high school education,
Hanby has accumulated a rather sizeable alumni, most of whom
have positive feelings toward it. And, if the public effort in
the summer of 2004 to turn back a proposal to close the school
and tear down
the building is any indication, there is even a 'subway alumni'
of neighbors radiating out from the Chalfonte-Brandywine-Grubb
More to the
point, Hanby students have consistently performed well in
various academic competitions and, in recent years, compiled
Delaware State Testing Program scores that have been among the
best in the state. In the spring, 2005, round of testing, just
shy of a third of Hanby's students were rated as 'distinguished'
in mathematics. The number meeting or exceeding state standards
was comfortably above average in reading and writing as well as
"If you set high
expectations for all kids, they'll rise to those expectations,"
said Hanby principal Ron Mendenhall.
succession of principals before him, Mendenhall -- now beginning
his third year at Hanby -- is committed not only to
of Brandywine School District
Mendenhall (left) and assistant principal Ken
Napaver serve students from teachers Nancy Walls's
and Ken Napaver's homerooms. Breakfast was the
reward for those classes having tied in raising the
most money for relief of Hurricane Katrina victims.
upholding the school's academic reputation but also
maintaining the spirit which has stretched over two generations
going back to the old Alfred I. du Pont Special School District.
Children of former students are among the 737 current students.
More than 40% of
the students are voluntarily involved in the 26 extracurricular
activities that are offered. They include boys and girls sports,
a jazz group, foreign language club and technology association.
Planned for next spring is a production of Fiddler on the
Roof, a musical that is particularly ambitious for a cast of
responsiveness was demonstrated recently when home rooms raised
nearly $3,000 for relief efforts on the Gulf Coast.
faculty, Mendenhall said, is a near ideal mix of age and
experience, about evenly divided among those new to the
profession or the Brandywine district, those in mid-career and
himself came to Hanby after retiring as a principal in the
Salem, N.J., district. He served 30 years as a teacher and
administrator -- all of them at the middle school level. While
an apparent majority of educators consider young adolescents to
the most challenging charge in the profession, he said he
regards it as the most satisfying.
the three 'R's.
That stands for
"rigor, relevance and relationship."
The first two,
he said, involve raising the bar in what's expected in the
classroom while making the topic relevant to the
youngsters' lives. "You try to make the subject matter
consistent with what the kids already know about," he said. It's
not pushing too hard, for instance, to associate traditional
English-class poetry with rap music.
"relationship is the big thing," he said. The aim is to get to
know both students and their parents on a basis which, if not
quite casual is not stiff or formal.
"Even the most
difficult kids will respond if you say something kind to them or
show interest in them," he said. A compliment about a student's
appearance or an inquiry about a pet goes a long way toward
that himself and is encouraging Hanby teachers this academic
year to "take three or four [students] under their wings." They
will be selected as being youngsters in need of additional
encouragement and support, he said.
to access Delaware Department of
Education profile of Hanby Middle School (Enter 'Brandywine
School District' and 'Hanby Middle School' in the first search
At the recent 'state of the district'
breakfast, Brandywine district superintendent Bruce Harter
remarked that he would favor extending the traditional six-hour
school day. While he acknowledged that the idea is not likely to
go very far very soon in Delaware, Boston, Springfield,
Cambridge and at least 17 other Massachusetts school districts
are going that route, with a possibility it'll happen as early
as next year. The Massachusetts Department of Education is
providing grants to support exploration of the idea.
to read the Boston Globe
In a major policy address delivered to the
National Endowment for Democracy on Oct. 6, President Bush said
Islamic radicals are seeking to "enslave whole nations and
intimidate the world," and called that a prime reason not to cut
and run in Iraq. The speech was a comprehensive expression of
his current views about the 'war on terror' and related topics.
to read the full text on the
White House website.
When a new state law goes into effect in
Connecticut on Oct. 8, drivers will have to keep their eyes on
the road. One of the toughest in the nation, it goes beyond just
prohibiting drivers from using hand-held cellphones while behind
the wheel. If pulled over for speeding or other moving
violations, they can be fined $100 for glancing at a newspaper,
typing on a Black Berry, applying lipstick while looking in the
rearview mirror or turning to yell at the kids in the back seat.