Montoursville schools offer opportunities

The Montoursville Area School District offers students the opportunity to be creative, inquisitive and in charge of their learning.

In one of the many examples the district offers, kindergarten students recently got a chance to do a hands on experiment themed for a great interactive autumn activity: pumpkin volcanoes.

“Teachers Jennifer Rearick and Margaret Welsh gathered all the students from their class to create ‘erupting’ pumpkins,” said superintendent Christina Bason, superintendent. “In this STEM activity, students learned about basics, acids and what reaction is created.”

Basin said that inquiry based lessons teach students “how.” Students need to be an active participant in each lesson, she said.

In the activity, the teachers used vinegar, baking soda and dish soap inside of carved pumpkins to create a fun, messy soap volcano for students to enjoy.

The students got to guess what combining the ingredients would do while also discussing what volcanoes actually did, and they got to experiment and try it themselves as they watched each ingredient come into the mix for reactions.

For elementary art projects, lessons include culture, history and societal relationships.

Nicole Hoinowski, middle school art teacher, started a project that allows middle school students to paint individual rocks in the theme of something they are personally passionate about.

“Each student is provided a rock. The student determines what it is that they would like to convey about themselves in a painting on the rock,” Basin said. “As students determine what their subject material should be, they write a short paragraph about their art, what it means to them and what they hope it will show others about themselves.”

This creative learning continues on throughout the district.

“At the high school, students are studying Asian art practices from their teacher that recently went to South Korea to hone her skill. The district has many choirs and bands, beginning in the fifth grade,” Basin said. “Students can be involved in dramatic plays and musicals that consistently win ‘Ray of Light Award,’ presented by the Community Theatre League of Williamsport. The service organizations of the district as well as those involved in the arts and athletic programs offer their time at community events, help the elderly and support other non-profits throughout the region.”

Basin said that Montoursville students are community minded.

“It’s an asset to our community,” she said. “The students raise money for breast cancer, they continue to do community service. Such as, our cheerleaders go out and help with different social groups. Our kids go out and do projects on a basis of their own. They will come help for our senior citizen Thanksgiving dinner our district does to say thank you.”

She said the students put on the entertainment, builds the centerpieces, seat people and help clean up the Thanksgiving dinner event.

“They’re amazing,” she said. “The level of community and what it means to be a part of the community, they give a lot of their time. I’m so proud of the time they give to the community.”

The district gives personalized academic processes to student needs.

“As you reach the upper grades in the middle school, students have opportunities to begin taking high school level classes for high school credit. Allowing students to have such opportunity means that they can get to the highest levels of math, English and science by the time they are seniors,” Basin said. “The district offers 14 advanced placement courses, Penn College (Pennsylvania College of Technology) courses embedded in the high school curriculum and is working on a partnership with a local university to allow students to take college credits on the campus in order to develop awareness of the rigor and scope required of high level college work while still having the support of one’s family at home.”

She said the district wants to be able to offer as much opportunity to its students as it can.

“That dual enrollment component gives every student, regardless of their thought process of whether or not they want to go to college, we want it to be available to them,” she said.

Taking some of the courses can help students decide if they want to go on to higher education, she said. It’s an important opportunity for students to get before they’re even out of high school.

“We work as a team to continue developing our curriculum,” Bason said. “We include input from industries in order to create opportunities to develop internships and jobs for our students.”

Basin said a new course in the high School allows students to be the creators of their own STEM class.

“Students drive the curriculum, the lab studies and the assessment,” she said. “Creating a generation of critical, creative thinkers is necessary in a world where the sciences are becoming the next big job market.”

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