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Kate Kargbo Plans to Maintain, Extend Greatness at Thornton MS

Sienna - Kate Kargbo Plans to Maintain, Extend Greatness at Thornton MS

August 07, 2023

Ronald Thornton Middle School is a community of opportunities and high achievers — and new Principal Kate Kargbo plans to keep it that way.

Kargbo says students’ achievements demonstrate well-rounded excellence — academically, athletically and artistically. Many students take high school-level courses, mastering their subjects on STARR tests. The school offers a strong AVID program and more than 200 National Junior Honor Society members.

The school boasts a number of district championships in sports, with students going on to play high school sports and members of the first Thornton graduating class now signing to play sports in college. The cheerleading squad is also award-winning.

The Thundercats band participated in the Music for All Festival in Indianapolis last spring, and the school is home to excellent theater productions, Kargbo said. The most recent production was “Footloose.”

Having taught middle school math and having served as a junior-high assistant principal, and most recently serving as principal of Walker Station Elementary for the past six years, Kargbo fully grasps the unique needs of children in sixth through eighth grades.

“You have to face each student individually and know there is more going on than you can see,” she said. “Our staff is being trained to recognize the struggles these kids have and what it’s like to be a kid these days.

“Pride, inclusion and feeling welcome are priorities here at Thornton Middle School because children this age can feel like they don’t belong anywhere.”

Because of the size of Thornton Middle School — approximately 1,700 students — there are more extracurricular activities that you might not find at another middle school.

“We have groups like an Origami Club, Harry Potter Club — opportunities outside the normal track of middle school,” Kargbo said. “Because of this, it’s easy for a student to find others with similar interests.”

To manage the number of students attending Thornton, lunches are staggered, and sixth graders pass through hallways at different times than seventh and eighth graders. The school is prepared to manage the student population and has scheduled classes for every student.

“While we do have some first-year teachers, overall, our teachers average 10 or more years of experience,” Kargbo said. “We do have a number of new employees coming onboard, but they are bringing with them a wealth of knowledge from other schools.”

One of the students new to Thornton this year will be Kargbo’s oldest son, with his brother following in two more years. They will continue a tradition started when Kargbo was their age, sitting in her father’s middle-school principal’s office after her classes were done for the day.

“I spent endless hours sitting in my father’s office as a child, dreaming of becoming a principal someday,” Kargbo said. “When I became a teacher, I knew I’d end up in administration — there was always a plan for leadership.”

And while Kargbo is new to Thornton, she’s not new to Sienna — she and her husband Lesley moved to Sienna 13 years ago. They own Research Enhanced Performance Services (REPS) physical therapy clinic in Sienna.

“With both of our jobs, we are doubly invested in the community,” Kargbo said. “It has helped us build a lot of great relationships with people.”

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