FAIRMONT - Across the country, enrollment in fifth-grade classes is low, and Fairmont Area Schools is no exception.
The district's total numbers have remained steady this year, right around 1,700 pupils, but the size of the fifth-grade class stands out. In the most recent count, there are 95 fifth-graders at Fairmont Area, compared to 135 fourth-graders and 132 sixth-graders.
The low numbers for that particular class coincide with what was taking place around the time those students were born: the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2011.
"The children born in 2002 are now in fifth grade," said school board member Dan Brookens.
It was a time when national security and the state of the U.S. economy were weighing heavily on many.
"We have the lowest number of children in that grade level, and that's the case nationwide," said Superintendent Joe Brown.
Following the same trend as the Great Depression, fewer babies have been born during the Great Recession, which began in 2008. That could be turning around though.
Statistics indicate the birth rate for 2013 dropped slightly, after several years of steady declines, but analysts with Demographic Intelligence are predicting the 25-year baby bust will soon come to an end, and the fertility rate will soon begin a slow upward crawl.