Why do I need to know this?
I hear the comment, “Why do I need to know this?” I hear it most often in math classes like algebra and geometry. These classes are hard for many students and are oftentimes met with resistance. Overcoming this resistance, in part, relies on knowing why math is important and how it will be applied in a career. So, the teachers tell the students why and how it is applied outside the classroom. The counseling department tells the students and the parents, too. Sometimes, though, a picture is worth a thousand words. With this in mind, the counseling department decided to let the students experience the why and the how first hand.
Enter Manufacturing Day and Just Build It! Construction Career Expo. These were two days dedicated to showing our students why the skills they are learning in high school are valuable. And how acquiring these skills sets them up to pursue careers in high demand.
Manufacturing Day brought WLHS students from Ms. Taylor’s Tech and Engineering class to three companies in the area: Kem Krest, Flexible Materials, and American Composites. Each is within 15 miles of Whitmore Lake. Each has jobs in robotics, engineering, design, machining, and welding. WLHS provides opportunities for our students in all these areas. I toured the Flexible Materials plant, which is in Hamburg, with our students. I was impressed with the enthusiasm of the employees and with the behavior and engagement of our students.
Drew Zolenski, a sophomore and budding computer scientist, was so eager to learn more about the design process at Flexible Materials, he demanded (politely) that the school buy a new C.A.D. lab (computer-aided design). While I continue to negotiate with Drew over the lab at WLHS, his enthusiasm with the manufacturing experience cemented the importance of showcasing the region’s technical opportunities. It was a great experience.
Just Build It! was a big event sponsored by the Washtenaw Contractors Association. It was held at Eastern Michigan University. The counseling department brought almost the entire 8th grade to the event. They were able to participate in hands-on activities and enjoy demonstrations by industry professionals such as architects and engineers. Our goal was to expose our middle school students to what careers exist in the skilled trade apprenticeship programs. We want our students thinking about life after school before they actually get to high school classes. We want them to not only be able to answer the “Why do I need to know this?” question for themselves, but inspire them to ask “How can I learn more?”
You can check out more pictures and videos from both events on our Facebook page HERE.
New this year for students in grades 7-12 is a once-weekly class called Trojan Time that meets Tuesday between 2nd and 3rd hours. The purpose of Trojan Time is to strengthen student learning and performance.
Trojan Time builds time into the school day to give students the opportunity to return to a class where the teacher will reteach material that was not understood or provide assistance with challenging content. Students may also engage in learning activities that support, extend, or enrich course objectives and expectations.
In addition to the teacher-led assistance available in individual classrooms, the following resources/supports are available during Trojan Time:
- Testing Center: The cafeteria will serve as a quiet testing center. Students can access the testing center to make up a missed test, quiz, or in-class essay.
- Open Lab: The library will be available for students who need access to technology during Trojan Time, whether they are working on an assignment, completing college or scholarship applications, or using Khan Academy for P/SAT test prep.
- Mac Lab: A201 will be available for students enrolled in courses in the Mac Lab to access the necessary technology.
- Math Tutoring Center: The library will also serve as a math tutoring center. Students will access it to get one-on-one/small group assistance from capable peers.
- Cooperative Learning Center: Students can access the library for a space to work together on group projects.
Even our strongest, most independent students can benefit from Trojan Time. Typically, these students carry an intense workload, so Trojan Time will enable them to devote time during the academic day to deepen their understanding of complex work.
While students will benefit from participating in Trojan Time, it will not totally eliminate the need for students to do work or pursue extra help outside the actual school day.
We love to share the great things happening in our district and give recognition where recognition is due. And at the core of making great things happen is our staff. Bus drivers, custodians, teachers, paraprofessionals, all of them, are what make our district great. Help us recognize them by nominating a staff member for our weekly #StaffSaluteSaturday. Every Saturday morning we post on our Facebook page a staff member who deserves some extra love. All you have to do is fill out this simple online form. We love to share who submits the nomination, but we will take ones anonymously as well. Thanks in advance for helping us celebrate our great staff at WLPS.
Building Healthy Communities at WLES
WLES is one of only 30 schools in the state of Michigan to receive the Building Healthy Communities grant this year. Essentially, by participating in the Building Healthy Communities program, our school will undergo a school transformation that aims to improve healthy eating, increase physical activity opportunities and provide additional educational experiences for all of our students.
“Research connects student achievement and learning to a child’s overall health and wellness. This includes good nutrition, physical health and overall wellness (medical, dental and mental health.) This grant will allow us, as a school community, to learn together through a clearly guided curriculum, how to make better food choices, stay active and have a positive attitude,” WLES Principal Sue Wanamaker shared.
So far, thanks to this grant and program, we have implemented a new health and wellness curriculum for teachers, have had a consultant from Wayne State University visit our classrooms to teach lessons associated with the program, have received physical education and playground equipment, and the biggest of all: the new, very well-received Healthy Kids Club program.
The Healthy Kids Club is a one-hour free after-school program on Thursdays run by two of our paraprofessionals, Sue Corrie and Diane McGee, along with volunteers from the National Junior Honor Society. The grant provides the curriculum and covers the cost to staff the club and to provide healthy snacks. This program will run for 30 weeks.
In only the second week, more than 50 students participated in the program. Interested students can join anytime. Simply ask your classroom teacher for the registration form.
In the future, as part of the grant, WLES will work to provide training for staff and families, host school-wide activities for families and staff, and develop a student leadership program. The goal is to have our Wayne State consultant complete four lessons in each of our classrooms. The classroom teachers will complete four more lessons using the curriculum provided.
Thanks to the following sponsors of the grant: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Michigan Department of Education, the Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Team Nutrition, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, University of Michigan, Wayne State University Center for Health and Community Impact and Action for Healthy Kids.