Students at Parkers Chapel learned new skills Wednesday as part of the school’s development day, which brought in community members who came to teach about their areas of expertise.
The event, planned by high school counselor Gina Taylor, allowed students the chance to attend the sessions they were most interested in. Some of the available options included archery, self-defense, banking, laws that impact teens, skin care, automotive basics and CPR.
“Today has been the best day of my professional life,” Taylor said. “I have been so pleased with our kids. They learned so much and it was fun to see them loosen up a little bit and learn a dance or focus on building self-esteem. Self-defense, when I walked in and saw them sitting on top of each other, I thought ‘oh, this is going to be the butt of a lot of some inappropriate jokes and some Facebook posts’ but they were taking it so seriously. They saw the importance of what they were learning.”
Taylor said the students were receptive to the whole event and excited to learn about topics they hadn’t really thought about. She said one of the high school students signed up for basic banking, but misread it thinking that it was basic baking. However, the student came to Taylor’s office and said she’d enjoyed the class more than she would have expected and left having learned things she didn’t realize she needed to know.
Shawn Barnes, a senior at Parkers Chapel, echoed the same remarks, saying he was almost disappointed that he won’t be at the school next year for the event because there were more classes he wanted to attend.
“I wish that as a senior, I’d gotten to take more classes,” he said. “I didn’t take all the classes I needed to take, but the classes that I did were done extremely well. Insurance, automotive, I wish I’d been able to take taxes. These are things that people need to know and especially as high schoolers, you don’t realize you need to know them until you’re actually in the class.”
Barnes said he attended the automotive basics class where he learned about cars and was able to watch a demonstration on how to use jumper cables, which he thinks will come in handy when he’s away at college next year.
During the first half of the day, high school students were able to attend three of the courses they’d picked out while the junior high students – seventh through ninth grades – attended three classes in the afternoon.
One thing Taylor said she hopes for next year and the coming years is to be able to have the students take a full day of the courses rather than the half day.
“The only negative feedback I’ve had from kids is that there were more they wanted to do and they didn’t have time,” she said. “I don’t think getting enough presenters to fill the entire day would be hard, I think we could do it.”
While the offered courses included topics such as banking basics, insurance 101 and CPR, which covered some of the practical things students will need to know as they enter adulthood there were also topics that sound more fun such as dance and makeup application.
Raelynn Stueart, who taught classes of mostly female students about makeup application, said she volunteered because she felt it was important for young girls to know about the topic.
“They may not have anybody to show them,” she said. “It’s important for young girls to know the gist. We should all get together and help each other.”
Another instructor, Brandy Givens, who is a cosmetologist at the Spa on Main, taught students about the basics of skin and what she does at her job. She gave them some information, such as the importance of cleaning phones regularly because of the bacteria that grows on them, before giving students time to ask questions.
“They’re all dealing with hormones and breakouts,” she said. “So they need to know the basics about skin care.”
Taylor said she’s excited about seeing the beginning of what she hopes to turn into an annual event that will grow over time.
“It was a good activity for us to mix some fun things, informational and educational things, that aren’t in our state required standards,” Taylor said.
Skin care: Brandy Givens, a cosmetologist at the Spa on Main, led a class on basic skin care and answered questions about her job as well as ways to deal with acne. Michael Shine/News-Times
Michael Shine may be reached at 870-862-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter and like him on Facebook @MichaelAZShine for updates on Union County school news.