New year brings changes for local Middle School

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter
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JACKSONVILLE, Fl - Monday is a big day for students in Duval County, they're heading back to school!

For one school, this year is extra special. Joseph Stilwell Middle School has a new name and a new program.

It's now Joseph Stilwell Military Academy of Leadership and the middle school is now a magnet school.

Jason Bloom, the principal, says there will be a lot of changes, but all are positive . He says the great thing about this magnet school is there are no academic requirements like many other Duval County magnet schools.

Bloom says the school will embody military values, something the principal tells me will be key in forming future leaders.

"What we want is to develop or bring in the values that the military embodies and instill that in our children here at the school," he said.

Jason Bloom says the former Duval County middle school turned leadership academy will instill military values into the 6th through 8th graders classrooms every day. A big shift for students who attended the school last year, but Bloom calls it an exciting and smart move.

"Identification of self, working as a team, and having the branches come out and support us we will have guest speakers things along those lines so its a significant change for students who were here last year."

Unlike other Duval County magnet schools, there are no academic requirements at the new magnet school. Principal Bloom says the only thing parents have to do is agree that their child will wear the full uniform and will participate in the military theme.

He says if students are interested in the military this will give them a great start, but says if not, this program is still great and will help prepare all students for whatever future path they decide to take.

"It's really about helping them make decisions when they leave middle school what kind of decision do they want to make in high school they could end up in ROTC but also we want them to think about other programs across the district," Bloom said.

There are about 1,050 students enrolled for this upcoming school year. The principal says that is slightly under capacity and says that kids in the neighborhood are first priority, but after that any child in the district can attend as long as they have transportation.

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