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May 2016 Slice: Stanley Middle School Electives Benefit From LPIE Support

Stanley students constructing a vehicle in Engineering class.

As fifth graders across Lafayette get ready to embark on their middle school adventure, one of the many things that will be very new to them at Stanley Middle School is taking elective classes.

Stanley has a wide array of electives for students to choose from. Each spring, students in fifth, sixth and seventh grade pick their top preferences and find out what electives they will get once they receive their schedules on the first day of school.

“We have the support of the community and the district to encourage us to create these programs that are really rich and varied,” says Sue Applin, Stanley’s department chair for electives and home economics teacher.

This year, LPIE contributed $280,900 to Stanley’s elective programs, and teachers say this support has been invaluable to help their classes evolve to keep up with changing technology and curriculum.

“Without LPIE’s funding, my program would not exist,” says Mike Meneghetti, who teaches sixth and seventh grade Engineering in the Wheel rotation and a year-long class in Robotics and Engineering for eighth graders. LPIE funding has provided his classes with computers, robot sets and supplies for students to build engineering projects.

“Quality materials are really important to the program,” says Meneghetti.

Stanley music teacher Bob Athayde leads students in a choral music class.

In sixth grade, students get to choose one elective. They can take either vocal or instrumental music or what is known as Wheel 6 – a rotation of 5 different classes that take place for roughly 7 weeks at a time, each during the same period of the day. Students stay with the same group of classmates as they try out the different classes, which are: 3D Art, Computers, Engineering & Robotics, Wood Technology and Foreign Languages.

For most sixth graders, the classes in Wheel are often a first look at subjects that they may want to pursue more as they get older.

Seventh graders get a choice of two electives. They can opt to do vocal or instrumental music or they can choose a full-year class in some of the electives they tried in sixth grade. Electives available for a whole year to seventh graders include: Foreign Language (languages offered are: French, German, Mandarin or Spanish), 3D Art, Computers and a Yearbook class taught by art teacher Robert Anke.

There is also a Wheel 7 option for students who would like to continue to try out new subjects. In seventh grade, the Wheel consists of Engineering and Robotics, Wood Technology, Computers, Home Economics and Drama.

Students need not worry that taking the Wheel in both sixth and seventh grades would be redundant because the curriculum covered in the classes offered both years (Engineering, Computers and Wood Technology) is different. Even if a student decides to take Computers as a full-year option, they can still take the Wheel because the curriculum in the computer class is not the same, says computer teacher Brian Connolly.

Connolly says he’s been able to introduce his students to areas like 3D printing and manufacturing with the help of LPIE funding, which enables him to buy parts like computer chips, motors, wiring and electronic boards for some of his classes’ projects.

“I’m positive if it weren’t for LPIE I wouldn’t have the resources that I have,” he says.

A student creation from the Wood Technology elective.

In eighth grade, students again have a choice of two electives, but this year all of the options are for an entire year. Elective options for this year include Home Economics, Computers, Engineering and Robotics, Vocal or Instrumental Music, 3D Art, Wood Technology, Foreign Language and Yearbook.

In addition to these, students can become a teaching assistant or take part in a leadership elective. These options have an application process or need approval from a teacher in order for the students to participate.

While the number of class options can be overwhelming, Applin says the scheduling process runs relatively smoothly and most students usually walk away happy with the classes they are given.

“It’s a huge puzzle to put together,” says Applin. “But for the most part they are able to give kids their first or second choices.”

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