Column: Students can stay involved with activities at Worthington Middle School

"At Worthington Middle School we believe in celebrating our students," writes Toni Baartman, Worthington Middle School principal.

Worthington Middle School, winter 2022. Tim Middagh / The Globe

In Student Council, we try to provide activities and events that build school spirit and reach out to the community. The students choose the dress-up days and advertise them. They also decorate the school for homecoming.

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“The whole community of Worthington helped raise me,” said Kyaw, who moved to Nobles County with his mother in 2011 when she began working at JBS.

For the last seven years, the Student Council has also run the Veterans Day program, giving our students the opportunity to lead a community event and give thanks to members of our community. We are also hosting an after-school game afternoon this year, and we hope to host more in the future.

Our middle school speech program has been running strong, and this year we have 17 seventh and eighth graders out for Speech. Students compete in one of 13 categories, speaking in front of their peers and high school competitors every Saturday in February and March.

Students tell stories, give dramatic interpretations of plays, poems and novels, write their own speeches about current events and so much more. In our first meet of the year, six of our middle school speakers placed in the top six in a varsity tournament, with two others in seventh and eighth place.

The middle school yearbook is filled with new friends and adventures that create memories. The yearbook is one way to help students relive these precious moments in their young lives. The students are the “staff”, taking pictures and then choosing the best ones to put into the yearbook.


We try to make sure that as many students as possible can find themselves somewhere in the pages other than that mug shot that nobody wants to remember! It’s fun and the students get a chance to be creative and explore something new.

Volunteer Optimist Kiwanis Kids, or VOKK, is the next step up from the K-Kids, which begins at Prairie Elementary. We are a community project-based group, with 25 kids, grades 6-8, attending bi-weekly meetings.

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“It’s very rewarding. I get to see the lightbulb click when kids really understand something,” Harrington said of his students. “I just felt I wanted to make some kind of difference in their lives.”
“We planted a time capsule somewhere and we celebrated it, and put something in it, and had a group of kids out there."

We work to improve our community, and help others. Some of the projects we do are cleaning parks, collecting food for the food shelves, making and donating tie blankets for cancer patients and other organizations, making cards for the elderly or veterans, helping the Kiwanis raise money for the parks and volunteering our time.

The middle school board game club is a new club this year. Several years ago, my brother in-law introduced me to Euro-style board games. These games typically require more complex thinking than traditional board games. I love to share my enthusiasm for board games and thought my students could benefit from playing board games as well.

The game club meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school, and currently four to five seventh and eighth graders join me. Several of the board games that the students have played so far are: Carcassonne, Kingdomino, Point Salad, Azul and Ticket to Ride.

The Worthington Middle School Renaissance Program is an opportunity to celebrate the excellence of our students. Students must meet a minimum GPA of 2.5 and can earn four different levels: Bronze (2.5-2.99), Silver (3.0-3.49), Gold (3.5-3.99) and Platinum (4.0). Additionally, to qualify for Renaissance, students must receive fewer than three office referrals and have had no in-school or out of school suspensions in that quarter.

To reward our students, they receive a "Trojan Pride" t-shirt for earning Silver and above. All students receive various prizes based on the level they achieve as well as a Renaissance certificate. We recognized a total of 396 students at our most recent Renaissance program on Feb.10.

At Worthington Middle School we believe in celebrating our students and that is what the Renaissance program is all about!


Depending on when you went to school, you will remember SADD as Students Against Drunk Driving. The organization is now called Students Against Destructive Decisions.

The mission of SADD is to empower and mobilize students and adult allies to engage in positive change through leadership and smart decision-making. Their vision is to have all students collaborate to create a healthier and safer world, one positive decision at a time.

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Here at the middle school, we currently have 10 students in SADD, that represent each grade level. They are working to create an environment where all students feel safe, accepted, and appreciated while learning how to make healthier decisions.

We meet two to four times a month, depending on what the students have planned. The students choose the activities that they want to do and do the work. Each month we randomly choose 10 lockers to put encouraging notes on (and they can come get a morning “pick me up” from the SADD teacher leader).

Some other activities we have had or are planning include:

  • Teaming up with our school counselors to teach students the facts about vaping and how to quit through poster contests, morning trivia and a competitive game.
  • Teaming up with VOKK to challenge each grade and staff to perform random acts of kindness.
  • Team up with Student Council to provide a Games Galore night as a way to play games with friends face to face.
  • Bring in speakers on topics of concern to middle school students.
  • Provide tips on organization and study habits.
  • Teach leadership skills, speaking skills and fundraising skills.
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