Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part story on Clark Fork Junior/Senior High School’s experiential learning track program.
By MARY MALONE
SANDPOINT — Clark Fork Junior/Senior High School’s experiential learning track program is designed to give students hands-on education in a variety of fields to find out what they may, or may not, be interested in.
Since its inception seven years ago, the program has grown to include seven tracks, giving the students even more options to gain skills needed to guide them into the future.
CFHS students and staff detailed the school’s experiential learning track program during the Oct. 22 board meeting to update Lake Pend Oreille School District officials on what is happening at the school. Tuesday’s Daily Bee detailed the outdoor, independent and healthy living tracks, and this second part continues with the fishing, tech, art and junior high programs.
Social studies teacher KC MacDonald, who was initially the outdoor track leader, now runs the fishing track that evolved from his original program.
“We decided to quit lying about it … we like to fish a lot,” MacDonald said.
MacDonald said he partners with different businesses and organizations in the area, including Trout Unlimited for fly fishing lessons, North 40 for fly tying, and Kaniksu Land Trust in community service efforts.
CFHS student Eloise Shelton took the opportunity to show off one of the jig sticks she’d made for ice fishing using scroll saws.
“It was really awesome, because I didn’t even know what a scroll saw was,” she said as she described the item to the LPOSD board.
Nathan Shelton expanded on the fly tying project with North 40, noting that they were able to acquire 14 kits to do a fly tying session every Friday. They also started “magnet fishing” this year, he said, where they throw out a rope with a magnet to help clean up trash and discarded items from rivers and lakes.
CTE instructor Marty Jones was up next to talk about the tech track with students Colton Walker and Tre Cirrincione. Jones said when the experiential program started seven years ago and they asked him what he would want to teach, the tech track had a “nice ring to it.” So they started out doing some robotics, welding, electrical and other things that they didn’t have classes for. Over the years it has grown as the shop, resources and supplies have grown, he said, and it has “morphed” into an automotive program.
Cirrincione said they work on different vehicles, sometimes ones that Jones brings in, and other times projects the students bring in. One was a Suzuki that they fixed up and raffled off to help fund the program, and Walker said he brought in his truck to fix up when the transmission started to go out. Before taking it to a mechanic, he asked Jones who said it sounded like an electrical issue. Walker was able to change out a few parts and get it running right away, which saved him a lot of money, he said.
Jones said he can’t fully train all of his students, but he can give them a “broad” opportunity to experience different things and let them develop an interest, or decide they don’t want to do it.
“Both of which are equally good outcomes as far as their choices for the future, but at least this way they will have a chance to experience it,” Jones said.
Ron Mason is the new math teacher at CFHS, so in his first year at the school he is tasked with leading the arts track, which includes culinary arts as well. They do a lot of cooking, and also “get out and find art, anywhere and everywhere,” Mason said.
CFHS student Reba Decker said the first thing they learned in the kitchen was everything they can do, and everything they can’t do, with an emphasis on “no cross-contamination.” Decker’s classmate Triston Miller said they also learn about nutrients, things they should not eat and when they should eat things that are “not that good” for you. For example, people may eat something with sugar after working out.
“The best time to eat anything, really, is healthy foods during breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Miller said. “A lot of people think you can blow those off sometimes, but you really can’t.”
Finally, junior high teacher Heather Cook detailed the seventh-grade track with one of her students, Evrett Montgomery. The program is strictly for the seventh graders, she said, to introduce them to the track system.
Montgomery said they have done projects with Kaniksu Land Trust, gone fishing with MacDonald’s class, and gone hiking among other projects and initiatives, showing off some of the photos from the experiences to the board.
“They have the privilege of trying every track that our building offers, so they can make an educated decision in the following years of what they might be interested in,” Cook said.
Before departing the meeting, all of the CFHS students who spoke were presented with certificates of recognition from the LPOSD board for their hard work and dedication in their respective experiential learning tracks.
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.