The WZZM 13 Morning News is in its third week of featuring schools participating in the annual School Spirit Challenge.
These kids have dedicated their time and energy to collecting toys for Toys For Tots. Their commitment should be lauded, especially considering how many other activities school students are involved in. Two of those extra-curricular activities are the Cursive Club and Robotics Club.
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The cursive club originated from a social studies article debating should cursive be taught in schools or no,” said Pamela Moore, Cursive Club Leader, 7th Grade Language Arts Teacher.
While schools across the country have given up on teaching cursive anymore. Coopersville Middle School came up with an innovative idea - an after school Cursive Club.
It is no longer a required standard according to the Common Core Standards. Many teachers in elementary may find it difficult to find the time to teach something that is not a required standard,” she said. “Most teachers might give it a little bit here or there, but it is not formally taught anymore.”
Moore says, a growing group of students meet once a week to practice. They read and write, recipes, correspondence and more, all in cursive. It is something, Moore believes will always be valuable to know.
"I think students need to be able to read cursive and write at least a signature and if Grandma sends you a card in the mail you want to be able to read that. When you grow up, if your boss hands you a note in a meeting and it is in cursive, you want to be able to read that note,” she said.
Sixteen students have returned to the club this semester. Moore says that tells her -- she is onto something.
“They are back again and bringing more of their friends in. So, the response to the cursive club has been growing,” she said. “So that tells me they liked it the first round.”
The Robotics Club has an equally excited and committed group of students participating. This club meets twice a week after school, doing what one would think - building and working on robots.
Their mentor, Science Teacher Ryan Schoenborn, says the kids are busy with task that include everything from programming to construction of the robots.
"We get a lot of kids that are into computers. So, they want to do the coding stuff. Those kids come and deal with all of the programming for the robot and figuring out how to get it to do the things we want it to do,” he said.
“Then, we get kids who are more mechanical who do all of the building. They have to design the thing and then make modifications like today when the servo broke and trying to figure out how to fix it.”
This club is a valuable addition to students’ academic careers, especially with STEM education being so important right now.
“I think we are lucky because we have STEM programs now, in elementary through high school. So, students can do some of this stuff during the day,” said Schoenborn. “There is a benefit to them being able to have a problem they can keep working on for months at a time, that they couldn’t do in a one hour class, especially with the number of kids that would be in a classroom.”
The tasks students spend months working on, will help create the foundation for a lifetime of success.
"We do a lot of stuff that would be done in industry. So, automation is a really big thing right now. This, although you won't normally have robots driving around for automation, they do all the same things. They're going to grab things. They are going to program for servos, controlling motors, all those things are things they might use in the workplace later," said Schoenborn.
“The kids we have this year that are sort of pushing everything and taking charge, are the kids that were sitting back last year. So, watching them gain confidence and seeing them come to the high school and start leading the high school teams has been really exciting for me.”
For more information about the School Spirit Challenge, or to participate, please contact Catherine Behrendt at 616-559-1481 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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