This year Gulfport sixth graders are spending a lot of time in classrooms where the students are entirely male or female. The district is separating the sexes in core subjects like math and English and will continue to do so for at least the next four years.
Sherman Kyse says the idea of teaching an all boy classroom didn't sit well with him until he got one.
"After we got started and there were less distractions from the females, not having them with the males," he said. "It was like, 'okay we can get to work'"
Students moved quickly though gender specific lunch lines. Having the boys on the other side of the cafeteria is just fine with Samantha May.
"I think it's great because they talk too loud," May said.
Other girls admitted it was easier to learn without the boys, but complained that school just wasn't as interesting.
"Because they're funny and it's nice to be around them sometimes," Shayla Lynn Collins said.
Some boys were concerned about how their love lives would suffer. Eric Williams hates it.
"You see boys, they have to have girls around to you know socialize with the girls, but when it's all boys you can't do all that," Williams said.
Central Middle School's principal says sixth grade is a time of emotional transition where students are starting to look at themselves and each other differently. To compensate, he says boys and girls are getting a separate education, but neither is superior.
"It's gonna be the same," said principal Dean Frederick. "I would be less than an administrator if I would allow the standard to be dropped on either side. At our middle school we've got to continue to challenge our kids."
After 23 years in the classroom, Kyse hopes to never again hear the words "he hit me."
"Whoever thought of this concept, my hat is off to them. Because... I feel like it's gonna be an outstanding school year," Kyse said.
Central Middle School principal Dean Frederick says sixth graders are not kept apart the whole time. They attending electives like chorus and physical education together.