Mount View High School students, staff embrace hands-on learning during Exploratory Week

By Ben Holbrook | Jan 28, 2014
Photo by: Ben Holbrook Nicholas Troutman, a junior at Mount View High School, makes a glass bead during the district's exploratory week program that allows students to participate in a variety of activities.

Thorndike — Zombies shuffle around a classroom as part of an analysis of character development in "The Walking Dead," while outside students attempt to build fires and shelter in single-digit temperatures. Another group of students solve challenges by building simple machines while others participate in a photography course.

Those were just a few of the activities for students to experience during Exploratory Week at Mount View High School. Over the course of four days, students participated in a variety of courses that ranged from archery and fly tying to studying the history of rock and roll from the 1950's to the 1980's and robotics.

Other offerings included applied metal work, classic American films, exploring careers with animals and hand drumming, to name a few.

Cheri Towle, principal at MVHS, said the program started last year and after receiving so much positive feedback from staff and students, she decided to offer it again this year. She said the week-long program offers students the chance to try something new and have some fun at the same time.

While the intent of the program is for students to participate in a number of activities they will enjoy, participants also get to develop skill sets they might otherwise not be exposed to. For instance, in one class, students were learning how to prepare meals without the use of stove.

In another, participants were learning how to take advantage of special offers so they never have to pay full price for an item.

Nicholas Troutman, a junior at MVHS, demonstrated his glass-bead-making skills as he slowly rotated a piece of nearly molten glass over a small flame, adding color and detail with various rods.

The exploratory week, which ran from Jan. 21 through Jan. 24, is done at the halfway point of the school year, and that is a deliberate move on the part of the administration and staff.

While many of the activities students can participate in are intended to be fun, students who are struggling in a particular subject, such as math or English, are placed into an “intensive” class that will bring them up to speed with their peers.

The advantage of the intensive classes, Towle explained, are two-fold: For one, students who may be in danger of failing a course are given the opportunity to catch up before the end of the semester. Secondly, Towle said the number of students who receive failing grades have declined and those students are more confident heading into the final stretch of the school year, as a result of the intensives.

Superintendent Heather Perry said students who are placed in the intensives are given specific learning targets to focus on during the week and are offered individual instruction, as well as small group instruction.

Staff members try to vary the courses that are offered and community members also pitch in to lend their talents. Towle said community members offered to teach a photography course and a dance class, while the Camden Snow Bowl and Saddleback Mountain offered the high school a special deal so students could go to either facility and learn how to ski or snowboard.

“It's a great week,” she said of the different activities that were offered.

At the end of the week, students are asked to respond to a survey regarding exploratory week and the feedback that the administration and staff receive is used when considering the course offerings for the following year.

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Ben Holbrook
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Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.

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