Crane Country Day Expands Fifth Grade

A new opportunity is opening up for parents looking to send their children to private school before the switch to junior high school. For the first time, Crane Country Day School is expanding its fifth grade class to as many as 10 new students for next year.

Traditionally, Crane has kept its class size limited to no more than 20 students for kindergarten through fifth grade, with an expansion only in sixth and seventh grade, making it difficult to gain admission to the school before that time. But Head of School Joel Weiss says he sees fifth grade as an optimal time to change schools, especially from the parents’ point of view.

“The interesting thing about coming in fifth grade is that the parents are much more involved in the decision because the children are younger,” Weiss says. “In seventh grade, it’s a parent and child decision about where to go to school. But in fifth grade, it’s still primarily a parent decision.”

Fifth grade is a good time to switch schools from a child’s point of view as well, Weiss says. “Seventh and eighth grade is usually when most children, especially girls, are hitting puberty,” he explains. “It’s a tumultuous time in a child’s life. So it’s nice to be settled into a new school before all that happens.”

Crane’s plan is to split its current fifth grade into two sections, with each class having only 14 students. Chris Caretto, the current fifth grade teacher, will lead one section, while Carrie Althoff, an Upper School English teacher, will lead the other. Peggy Smith, the head of Upper School, will begin teaching English to the sixth- and seventh-graders.

Because of Crane’s low attrition rate, most of the students who started together as 5-year-olds stay together as a group until they are pre-teens. So the expansion of the fifth grade will benefit that group as well.

“At that age, kids are becoming more and more social and they thrive from a larger pool of friends,” Weiss says. “But we’re still putting them in classrooms with a small number of students, where they have to participate. We can still stay on top of the kids.”

Parents of current fifth-graders agree that their children are ready for a bigger group of students. “I think it’s a good idea,” says Jeppe Madsen, whose daughter Clara is in fifth grade. “It’s great to shake things up and have the group dynamics change. By the fifth grade, the girls in particular are looking to expand their friendships.”

Crane will hold an annual open house on Sunday, February 11, from 2 pm to 4 pm. From 2 pm to 3 pm, visitors are welcome to tour the classrooms, meet the teachers, and see student work and projects. At 3 pm, an Upper School music ensemble and the second grade will perform. At 3:30 pm, visitors will be invited to share in hands-on activities highlighting Crane’s math, science and art programs. The application deadline for Crane is Thursday, February 15.

For more information, call Debbie Williams, Crane director of admission, at 969-7732, ext. 105.