February 24: Middle School Mini Courses

Spotlight on Schools: Middle School Mini Courses

February 24, 2-17 —Hello Black River Falls Community! This is Dr. Shelly Severson with the School District of Black River Falls here to share this week’s installment of our Spotlight on Schools! This week I’d like to highlight a tradition at our middle school that celebrated its’ 29th birthday this year…(seriously, we’re not just saying 29 when we mean well over 30!) Mini-courses are 29 years old at the middle school.

If you are not familiar, the usual hustle and bustle of the middle school comes to a screeching halt for two days each winter while all of the students and staff jump into a completely different schedule and they get to try out some new hobbies and learn some new skills. All three grade levels are intermingled and the kids choose topics that are of interest to them. Each of the staff members offer different mini courses for the students to choose from. Most years, there are retired staff members and community members that also volunteer their time to provide some great and unique opportunities for our students.

The sessions that are offered truly span just about any area of interest you can think of! For those that want to try out a new physical activity, they could sign up for yoga, volleyball, swimming or tennis, just to name a few. As the mini-courses always happen during the winter months, there are some seasonal favorites that get the students very excited. This year there was a crew that went down hill skiing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and tubing. Some students chose to share a little love at the animal shelter for one of their activities.

If crafts are up your alley, well then these days were about as good as school can get for you! There was digital scrapbooking, tie dying, woodworking, beading, making tied blankets, a candy bar purse, and just about anything you can imagine was made out of duct tape!

With all of the digital entertainment that kids take advantage of these days, some people believe the art of playing cards and board games is lost. Not so! There is another generation ready to partner up for a game of euchre! They play chess, charades and other board games as well. Speaking of generational skills, how about learning how to make lefse or other Scandinavian cooking skills? You bet – it happened at the middle school! A personal favorite from my household was the Tear It Apart session. In this session they literally got to tear apart small appliances to see how they tick. (Every January, Mr. Stemper accepts donations of appliances that are ready for the graveyard.) With over eighty offerings for students to choose from, you can imagine how much work it was for the staff to prepare, and how exciting it was for the students to experience!

Why go through this effort? Relationships! The middle school has a motto that says: “We will connect and believe, so kids engage and succeed.” By mixing the grade levels and allowing kids to self-select two full days worth of activities, there is a great deal of teamwork, social skill building, and growing together as a learning community. Middle school can be a challenging age for any child. Going out of our way to find ways to connect them with others that share their areas of interest and the opportunity to connect with adults that aren’t their classroom teachers, pays pidends in the end. If you are interested in getting involved with the thirty year anniversary of the mini-courses, let myself or Mr. Roou know!

As always, if you have any questions about this, or anything else within the District, don’t hesitate to contact me. Also, I have another quote for you from American Education Week. This one is from Pam Holcomb, one of our jack-of-all-trades aides at the middle school. She says this: “My work is always unpredictable, never boring, fast paced and fulfilling emotionally…what other job gives you all of that!”

Thank you so much for your support of the School District of Black River Falls! Go Tigers!


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