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9th Grade at Murray High?

Saida Dahir

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Imagine coming to school the first day of your senior year and being surrounded by students 4 or 5 years younger than you.

This is the reality for many students across Utah. Many schools are transitioning the 9th-grade class to join high school. Will Murray district be following in other school districts footsteps?

Murray is one of the very few Utah districts that still uses the term “junior high school.” The majority have switched to the expression “middle school.”

John Goldhart principle of Murray High School said, “Most high schools across the country are 9-12 high schools.  Utah is one of the few states where that is not the norm.  However, all of Canyons District high schools are 9-12, and all of Granite District high schools (other than. Olympus, Skyline, and Taylorsville) are 9-12.  Salt Lake City School District has had this model for decades.”

According to many researchers, there are many convenient reasons that high school should be 9-12. It had been scientifically proven that 9th graders do better in a high school environment.

“Ninth-graders seem to be too old for middle school. They often have disciplinary problems, suggesting they have more in common with older students than with younger ones,” state John Wildermuth writer of,  “3-Year High School A Thing of the Past/ 9th-graders too old for middle school.”

Every class taken in the ninth grade shows up on student’s transcript. The grades individual receive in 9th grade greatly determines whether or not college is a priority, just like the one received in 10-12th.  

Studies show that students also look forward to “having more freedom, and attending school events.” MHS students are allowed to vacate the premises during lunch. 9th graders at Riverview and Hillcrest Junior High School do not have that opportunity. While MHS is more lenient toward cell phones, the two junior highs are not.  

“Students have more class and extracurricular activities to choose from in a high school setting than in junior high,” said 10th-grade MHS student Roha Ali. “I wish I could do the things I do now last year.”

“Most schools with the 9-12 model that have effective transition programs and support for the 9th graders, have had great success.  Personally, I am a supporter of the 9-12 model, but it is not an option at the present time,” Principle Goldhart said.

Many districts advocate for high school to only be 10-12.

As reported by Boston College, “Ninth grade students benefit by building relationships with peers in the same grade. Students, teachers, and administers reported fewer concerns of bullying by older students.”

Is Murray High big enough to hold an extra class body? This is a question many have been asking. According to the District, Murray high school is approximately 260,000-square-feet.

John Goldhart said, “At the current time, there is not building space to have 9th graders at Murray High.  It would require building an addition to the building.”

Info linked on to the Murray High website states, “Murray High School is one of the smallest high schools in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area with 1,885 students enrolled in the 2010-2011 school year.”

“I don’t think it would be a good idea to place 9th graders in our school. Our campus is small and we don’t have enough space in classes already, adding 9th grades would make it even worse,” said Pily Guzman a 12th grader at MHS. “ Also seniors and sophomores don’t get along that well already, imagine how much worser incorporating freshmen to the classes would be.”

The opinions of Murray students greatly differ, but what does Murray district superintendent have to added to this conversation?

“When the new Murray High School was built there was discussion about whether or not the new high school should include 9th grade.  A decision was made at that time to keep 9th grade in the Jr. Highs.  There are not any plans to convert to a 9-12 high school system,” said Darren Dean, Murray district’s Director of Personnel & Student Services.

“I think there are both pros and cons to including 9th grade at the high school.  For example, 9th grade students earn credit for a diploma, so it would make sense to have them at the high school.  On the other hand, one could argue that 9th grade students aren’t mature enough to be included with 10th-12th grade students,” he added.

Should the Murray school district alter its schools, moving ninth-graders from their current assignment at the junior high schools to a four-year high school program?


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9th Grade at Murray High?