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Silver Lake students get change of pace with mini classes

January 1, 2019

ROSELAND, Neb. (AP) — Bored students and stressed out teachers were nowhere to be found on the last day of the semester for students at Silver Lake.

In those last days before the end of the semester, students are usually tired after a long semester and teachers are stressing out as they work to get grade completed before their own vacation.

“Sometimes at the end of a semester or school year its pretty easy just to not do anything or pop that video in,” said Silver Lake Superintendent Josh Cumpston.

Instead the last day of the semester at Silver Lake Junior/Senior High School was spent with students attending a variety of classes learning everything from how to decorate cakes or speak German to dissecting pregnant sharks and watching a cat receive a dental treatment.

The day is filled with what they call mini classes taught both by teachers and community members who come in and spend about 90 minutes in each session focused on a variety of different ideas.

“We try to get kids to get a hands-on experience at something that they may not learn in our everyday classes,” said math teacher Stacie Heldt, who organized the day’s activities.

She starts ahead of time by asking students about their interests and things they wish they knew more about. Then she and other staff members reach out to teachers, staff and community members to make those classes a reality.

School board member Joan Fisher said she’s wanted for several years to be able to help out with the mini classes so after retiring in February, she was ready for the opportunity.

“Last night I was pretty nervous, but it was good,” she said. “It went well. You could tell the perfectionists and the ones that weren’t. It was good.”

She led the group of six in making holiday signs on barn wood.

For Fisher, volunteering her time is really just about spending time with the students and not just teaching.

“I like to do crafts but since I don’t have kids in school anymore I kind of lose connection with the students,” she said. “This gives me a way to get a little connection with some of them.”

Ag teacher Andrea Curlo turned her classroom into a craft corner with a variety of craft options for students including making winter gnomes with socks and rice, snow globes out of mason jars, barn wood signs and transferring pictures to wood boards.

“It’s so fun for the kids to see what they can do on a budget and be crafty in their free time,” Curlo said.

She has about 10 girls in her room who moved through the stations that she led along with her mom, Cindy Brader.

“My mom she’s the crafter here,” Curlo joked.

Brader led the girls in making gnomes and the picture art transferred to wood boards. This is her third year helping with the mini classes.

“I like to help the kids do stuff,” she said. “It’s watching them make things, the joy they get out of it. A lot of them use the stuff for Christmas gifts for their parents or grandparents. They love making them.”

This is the second year eighth-grader Reagan Rust has signed up for and gone to the Craft Corner mini class.

“I know Mrs. Curlo and I know she’s really, really talented,” Reagan said. “I did it last year and I liked it a lot so I decided to come back.”

She opted not to make a sock gnome after making one last year but was excited for the photo transfer piece and also painted a holiday greeting on a large piece of barn wood.

“As a teacher, you’re happy to see student art out there and them having pride in it,” Curlo said.

While some students used their pieces as Christmas presents, others were planning to enter them into the fair as 4-H projects.

“Last year, we had some kids do the rope signs and one of them had hers go to the state fair and get a purple and first or second place,” Curlo said. “So that was exciting.”

One popular course that gets repeat attendees is the cake decorating class that is popular among members of the senior class.

“It’s one of my favorites,” said Taran Hanson. “I like the teacher who does it because she gives us a lot of new techniques each year and it’s kind of relaxing.”

Classmate Alex Ehrman was also a repeat member of the cake decorating class going big this year with a sheet cake.

“I made a chimney with some lights on top and some Christmas stockings and it has a fireplace,” he said of his design. “I think I’ve improved from last year.”

The key, Ehrman said, is patience when it comes to cake decorating.

Hanson said he likes the mini courses because they give students a break from the regular classes and a time to relax.

“And it’s something we don’t learn in school every day,” he said. “And you can take it home and use it in your future. There’s a lot of stuff that maybe kid’s don’t know, like grilling and woodworking. It just really helps with the future.”

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Information from: Hastings Tribune, http://www.hastingstribune.com

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