Murray Middle School, Sierra Sands Unified School Districts largest middle school, serves the isolated Indian Wells Valley. Murray’s history dates back to 1943 when it housed China Lake Naval Weapons Center students. Murray’s population fluctuates with the valley’s demographic response to national trends of defense department down-sizing and outsourcing. The local economy, mirroring the nation, has suffered from the recent market conditions affecting many of our local families. Although experiencing declining enrollment and concurrent budget reductions throughout the school district, Murray serves all segments of our educational community by providing a standardized core of education custom designed for the educational and emotional needs of its students.
Although located on the Naval Air Weapons Stations (NAWS) China Lake, today fewer than 2% of our student population of 595 resides on the base. Uniquely, each day our students and visitors must pass through a military security check point to reach Murray Middle School. As a result, Murray enjoys a high degree of safety for its students and staff. Murray benefits with a close relationship with base scientists and engineers who support our STEM programs and provide guest speakers and workshops to encourage student success in STEM.
Murray’s focus on a tradition of solid core-education based on Common Core standards has resulted in student success as evidenced by an increase of API score from 655 to 833 as of 2013. The Murray math program has a very strong math competition team which consistently places in the top three at the county level frequently continuing on to state level competition against much larger schools. The Murray language arts program is proud of the achievement and superior recognition of students in contests such as poetry and essay writing. Murray students have won the district Spelling Bee twelve out of the last fourteen years. The Murray science department is the only school in the district with an annual science fair. This science fair is supported by scientists and engineers of NAWS. The Murray social studies program holds a school-wide History Day where students present projects which showcase their knowledge of historical events.
Although we focus on core content, Murray continues to offer programs that allow students to be well rounded. Our orchestra students compete regionally and receive excellent ranking, and Murray’s chess team is consistently first in the valley. Additionally, the physical education department boasts an excellent cardiovascular program, and annually students participate on the Junior Olympic Team continuing to county and state level competition. Murray students are encouraged to be civic minded by participating in community service projects such as canned food drive, Coins for a Cure, city-wide Youth Advisory Council and community service hours for extracurricular clubs. The counseling program sponsors a Bully Free Week. The Gateway to Technology Classes have been region, state and national award winners in Kid Wind and Robotics competitions.
By providing strong programs which adhere to exacting academic standards, as well inviting students to expand their potential in non-academic arenas, Murray promotes intellectual growth and responsible citizenship among its students. Murray Middle School, though isolated on the northern edge of the Mojave Desert, acts as an oasis by providing a history of achievement and a tradition of preparing students for the future.