What are they teaching these kids?

Chickens. My neighbors have chickens. They had eight. Now they have just six. You wouldn’t expect to see chickens in the middle of town, but there they are.

They belong to the Sanders family. More specifically to Isabella Sanders. She’s had them for a while. Isabella raised these chickens for the 4-H Chick Chain (see article online). She sold a couple at the Chick Chain Show and Sale in October. There’s more here than raising and selling chickens. If you read the article, you’ll see what is expected of the participants.

I’ve seen Isabella in her back yard taking care of her chickens. She’s been a fine caregiver. And I suspect she’s probably learned a lot.

Monday, October 23, I went to Escambia County High School for Red Ribbon activities (see article in this edition). I thought I was going to take a picture just of the new group of Peer Helpers, but it ended up being much more than that. Peer Helpers is a select group of students, facilitated by ECHS counselor Ashley Trawick, sponsored by the Escambia County Children’s Policy Council and Coordinator Karean Reynolds. One of the focuses of the CPC is the fight against drug abuse. Peer Helpers is joining that fight within ECHS.

So I took my picture of Peer Helpers then realized there were several other activities going on in the gym. Students wearing goggles were doing (or attempting to do) specific tasks. There were two sets of goggles – one simulated a person impaired due to marijuana use, another due to alcohol use.

As students tried to “drive” or walk a straight line, or shoot baskets, other students were looking on and, in many cases, laughing. Some of the students doing the activities laughed. You and I would have done the same thing. Although it’s serious business, we probably would have laughed.

But somewhere behind the laughter, there may have been a little discomfort about the outcome. Impaired students couldn’t walk a straight line. Impaired students who “drove” hit and ran over cones that could have been people.

So maybe if sometime one student remembers what it felt like with the goggles on or what it was like seeing a classmate stumble across a line on the floor, then it’s worth it.

I think everyone who took part in those activities learned something that day.

On Thursday, October 26, I went to Escambia County Middle School for the Lights On Afterschool program (see article in this edition). That day marked the national celebration of afterschool programs and promoted the importance of quality afterschool programs in the lives of children, families and communities.
You might think afterschool programs are baby-sitting services, but think again.

In the cafeteria, there was a group of students building small candy pumpkin catapults. Another group was working on a robotics project, another a technology project, and another playing violins and cellos.

Students’ parents were invited and some siblings came along too.

“Well, it isn’t like it was when I was in school.” I hear that a lot. I’ve probably said it too.

No, it isn’t like it was when we were in school. I don’t remember much collaboration and team building. Seems we worked alone unless we had a specific assigned project with other students. But as I walked around the cafeteria and watched these students, I realized how important those aspects of learning are.

Used to be if you had to stay after school, that was a bad thing. For these students, it’s a good thing.

I’m thinking these students are having a great time – and learning.

So what are they teaching these kids anyway? The answer is a lot. Think you know what goes on in our schools? You might need to think again.
I’m fortunate in that my job allows me to go into schools and see what’s happening. All peaches and cream? No. But it’s certainly more and better than you might think.