Saint William School

Saint William School began its enrichment program six years ago for a simple reason: There was a need.

“Most schools have eight bells. We have nine, which makes the day longer but gives us the chance to offer an enrichment program,” says Jennifer Helmers, director of enrichment programs and foreign language at Saint William School.

In the past, these enrichment classes have included creative writing, French, Spanish I-III, drama, math topics, Latin and beginning computer programming.

Helmers says that the programs that are offered each year to the sixth through eighth grades vary, but are designed to promote critical thinking and higher learning.

“They are classes that push kids that are ready,” says Helmers. “Spanish is one of our most popular classes.”

The class sizes vary, too, but Saint William treats each student as an individual, rather than a population.

“We want to adjust to fit their needs,” says Helmers.

Saint William also has a Young Engineers Program that lasts four to 10 weeks and began five years ago.

“It helps students explore with hands-on learning and modules,” says Helmers.

The class, which is held in the evening, gives Saint William School students the chance to learn about the physics of rockets by creating their own, provides the opportunity to tour a Honda or GE plant, and lets the students explore 3D computer programs.

There is also a LEGO team that meets twice a week and on select Saturdays.

The enrichment programs are scheduled on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with Mondays being dedicated to choir and Fridays to attending mass.

“Based on the response from parents, the staff puts students into the enrichment classes that would be best,” says Helmers. “But first, the student must be strong in the core classes.”

In the future, there is potential to expand the existing Spanish enrichment class to cover kindergarten through eighth grade at Saint William School.

–Alyssa Reck

Walnut Hills High School

The value of cultural understanding broadens the mind in a manner that stays with a young person throughout their lives. Since its inception in 1895, Walnut Hills High School has devoted itself to expanding young minds through classical liberal arts education, which includes a top-tier foreign language program.

“The world is not driven by one or two languages,” says Jeff Brokamp, Walnut Hills High School principal. “Foreign languages offer more connectivity for career and life experiences.”

The Walnut Hills Modern World Languages and Culture department includes Russian, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, French, German and Latin. Along with a diverse selection of languages, the department offers travel opportunities for students looking to immerse themselves in a native-speaking country.

The high school’s reputation for promoting liberal arts and the humanities ties in with the cross-cultural aspects of foreign language courses. As many public schools throughout the state cut liberal arts and focus on testable subjects, Walnut Hills has maintained a rich curriculum where students become global citizens.

“Studying the humanities and fine arts often takes students outside the boundaries of the United States,” says Brokamp. “We are true to what are charter has been and that means having a rich experience in the humanities.”

With more than 2,600 students, the college preparatory academy has been recognized as one of the nation’s top performing high schools. Their programs require three years of Latin for seventh and eighth graders, while the AP program offers more courses than any other school in the nation.

– Danny Restivo

Wyoming City Schools

Wyoming City students are taking part in interdisciplinary “Design Challenges.” High school math students, for example, built and raced mousetrap cars.

Third graders at Wyoming ‘s Vermont Primary School researched and made websites and historical markers for city landmarks. As part of environmental studies at the city’s Elm Primary School, students made a composting bin behind the school for the school’s food waste, and math students at Wyoming High School built and raced mousetrap cars using different materials to test their speed and ability to win races.

These are some of the hands-on, interdisciplinary learning projects undertaken by all Wyoming students this year to encourage them to work together and solve real world problems. The projects, called “Design Challenges,” leverage math, science, technology, language arts and visual or performing arts.

“It is all about the habits of learning. How do we cause students to learn, create, think differently, to problem solve and collaborate with team members?” says Dr. Susan Lang, superintendent.

The idea grew out of a taskforce created by the district three years ago to plan for a $25 million renovation and expansion of the district’s middle school, to be completed in January, and study next generation ways of teaching, she says. Part of the district’s strategic plan was to encourage teachers to work in interdisciplinary teams to help students apply what they’re learning.

“It’s great that students can regurgitate facts, but we want to take them to a different level. We’re putting more emphasis on analysis, synthesis, writing and thinking and applications,”says Lang.

This year, for the first time, all students participated in one “Design Challenge.” Lang would like to increase that to three a year.

To facilitate the interdisciplinary approach, the middle school renovation will include a lot of flexible space to encourage collaboration and community involvement.

For example, it will have four performing music rooms and two art rooms linked by a gallery to display student and community work. A professional development center, next to the library, will be available for faculty and adults in the community and there will be extended learning spaces on every floor for different types of projects.

“It will differentiate Wyoming from any other district in the state, and maybe the nation,” she says.

– Mike Boyer