Eighth-grade students from Rim Country Middle School, Pine-Strawberry Elementary School and Tonto Basin School had a taste of high school electives last week when they toured Payson High School.
"When eighth-graders see the elective classes ... they get visual and accurate information. It opens their eyes to possibilities," said PHS counselor Sandy Somsen, who coordinated this year's visit.
The 11 participating teachers had about seven minutes each to whet student appetites to stretch themselves and learn something, perhaps entirely, new.
Two of Kim Rhoades' Spanish students explained how much fun it is to take Spanish. The textbook teaches vocabulary through storytelling in addition to Rhoades' more traditional methods of teaching. One year of a foreign language is a graduation requirement. PHS offers two years of study.
Internet Computing Core Certification, or IC3, is the industry benchmark and the basis of Joe Pauley's class. His aim is to teach students to keep up with computers in such a way that their skills make them more employable by teaching them how to install RAM on a computer, set up a LAN and set up an e-mail program.
"Drafting is making a plan that people follow to construct something. It could be for a house or a road or a subdivision. It could be for furniture or a park for airplanes, just about anything," Patrick Underwood said.
Students in his drafting class design and build bridges from wood, and may go on to more complex projects in later school years. This year's major project is a Hovercraft.
Personal Finance Management
Richard Meyer illustrated the fact that, conservatively, the cost of drinking one soda pop a day, from high school through age 65, would cost more than $15,000.
Meyer involves his students in real life decision-making situations so they will learn to make the most of the money they will earn in a lifetime.
Kathy Siler's acting students treated the eighth-graders to demonstrations of stage combat and types of bows on the auditorium stage. "Techies" explained that backstage work is about lighting and sound, props and costumes.
"So far, I like the electives," said Marlow Galloway, who plans to take drama. Her friend, Sarah Eccles, was still undecided.
"Come to work, be prepared and be productive," was coach Chuck Hardt's advice to students who are eligible by recommendation to strength train with weights. In the working world, you earn a paycheck for doing those three things. In his class, it is a grade. "You are starting from where you are and need to do the best you can to improve."
According to Wendell Stevens, 70 percent of all jobs are related to agriculture in some way. Agriculture can count as the graduation requirement for lab science credits. Students were treated to a show of birds, bunnies, dogs and even a chinchilla. In future years, Stevens hopes the program will focus on animal health care.
Surrounded by the scent of cedar wafting from mission-style tables, a custom-built entertainment center and many chests of drawers, Richard Alvarez encouraged safety. "Tools have no mercy," he said. "Woodworking can be a hobby or have career applications."
Prospective students "oohed" and "ahhhed" over stained-glass inserts as tabletops and a wooden elk that dispensed candy.
Erin Church said she wants to take auto shop, where she will learn basic maintenance for her own vehicle. General auto is available beginning in the sophomore year and beyond. Vocational auto is a more intense class for those considering repair as a profession. Doug Eckhardt is the teacher.
Family and Consumer Sciences
On the last stop of the tour, Longhorn biscuits got the attention of RCMS teacher Michelle Gibbar's class. But FCC covers more than just cooking. Nutrition, parenting, sewing, career exploration and teaching Li'l Longhorns preschool are among the choices offered by Devon Wells and Donna Goeble.
According to Somsen, in the last 20 years, elective class changes have been from traditional farming and ranching to in-demand careers such as resource management; from raising and showing large animals to companion animal care; home economics to family consumer sciences. The last five years more technology courses have been included; there has been an increase in business classes; and a move toward industry certification programs.