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District 518 considers electives on drones, children's literature

In order to be taught, the electives would need to have at least 15 students sign up for the classes.

Worthington High School
Worthington High School.
Tim Middagh / The Globe
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WORTHINGTON — Drones, public speaking and children’s literature are all on a list of proposed new 2023 classes for high school-aged students, decided the District 518 Board of Education’s Instructional Committee on Monday.

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“All of them align to the college and career readiness goals of our district improvement plan,” said Sarah Nystrom, District 518’s curriculum coordinator.

The Children’s Literature course, which could be the first concurrent enrollment class with Minnesota West Community and Technical College available at the Learning Center, won’t just focus on reading material for kids.

It will also include methods of evaluation and organization criteria for children’s literature — an especially useful class for students hoping to become educators.

Two other English electives are on the list of new classes: Breaking the Ice: An Introduction to Public Speaking, and Young Adult Literature. The first elective walks high school students through the process of effectively speaking in public, and the second explores YA literature published since 2010, intended to pique interest for students who haven’t liked reading in the past and creating a bridge to the classic literature they read in required English classes.

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Board member Brad Shaffer said public speaking was an especially important skill for college-bound students.

A FARM to Table agriculture elective class will examine hot topics in ag, such as genetically modified organisms, organic farming and plant-based meat, and will help students become more educated consumers at the grocery store. Students will create a number of marketing materials documenting the ag industry as well, including websites, videos, news articles and blogs.

Board member Adam Blume said he especially appreciated the FARM to Table elective because of his time with the Cattlemen’s Association, which often discusses how to teach young people about those topics and where their food comes from.

Worthington students who would rather take to the skies will have an opportunity to do that, too, with a new industrial arts elective called simply “Drones.” Those who take the class will learn about FAA rules and how they apply to drones, learn to manually control a drone and also, how to program a drone to fly on its own using drone blocks or Python 3 coding. The class can be a pathway for students hoping to take the test to acquire a commercial drone pilot’s license.

Finally, a Multilingual Choir art elective will allow students to focus on language learning with a focus primarily on English and Spanish, enhancing singing skills and celebrating different cultural heritages.

In order to be taught, the electives would need to have at least 15 students sign up for them. In addition, the new classes must still be approved by the full board at its next meeting, scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Dec. 20.

In other news Monday, the committee:

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  • Learned about two requests for extension of leave, one medical for childcare, and one for military service. The requests will go before the full board for approval.
  • Talked about District 518’s list of legislative priorities, which include funding increases for education, building levy equalization, assistance with teacher licensure due to the shortage of teachers and funding early childhood education.
  • Learned about required changes for school meals. Students cannot be given alternative meals such as a cheese sandwich on the basis of unpaid lunch bills, nor can trays be taken away from them after being given to them. Superintendent John Landgaard said he has seen “a couple of substantial debts” from parents, including one family that owes more than $1,000 for school lunches. Currently District 518 is carrying about $6,000 in debt from unpaid lunch accounts. It is possible to donate funds toward that debt by contacting DeeAnn Crall at the Intermediate School at (507) 727-1275, ext. 1114, or deeann.crall@isd518.net.
  • Received information about Nobles County’s work experience program for students.
  • Heard the school is developing an online registration process, allowing parents to register children more easily.
  • Approved paying out vacation time for a worker who, due to significant department turnover and project workload, has not been able to use their vacation time. The district does not often approve such requests but in this case Landgaard recommended the vacation time be paid out due to the circumstances.
  • Learned that school officials are still working on the calendar for the 2023-2024 school year, which will likely go before the full board for approval in December or January.
  • Discussed a resignation agreement for a teacher.
A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Email: klucin@dglobe.com
Phone: (507) 376-7319
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