It was very interesting to read the comments prompted by a story by Tammy Adamson-McMullen about the January term at West Sound Academy, a private school in North Kitsap. “Jan Term” offers WSA students the opportunity to take different classes: belly dancing, for example. Read Tammy’s story here. There were commenters celebrating WSA’s forethought to offer classes to kids that would spark their interests beyond regular academic pursuits. And there were folks who found the whole idea frivolous.
It made me think again about watching the food science classes at Ridgetop Junior High (a public school) in Central Kitsap. I spent most of the late morning/early afternoon today watching the eighth- and ninth-graders working in teams to create special dishes as part of the school’s second annual “Iron Chef” competition. Basically it was a lot of organized chaos with food sciences teacher Kathryn Wilkie in charge. The kids worked in three teams to create some amazing dishes: apple mulligatawney soup; apple-brined pork loin; chicken liver and apple pate; green apple chutney; apple cake with caramel sauce; homemade baguettes etc. You can read all about it in this story.
The one thing that stuck with me throughout the time that I watched these kids was their level of enthusiasm. Everyone had a job and everyone was very focused on doing it well. These teen-agers spoke enthusiastically about making ice cream, brining meat, using a crockpot. Justice, the student assigned to clear all the plates, did so with flourish. They were all really into it.
So here’s my question: Are these classes, these “Jan Term” efforts, worth it?