New hands-on classes re-inspire students


    Elizabethton High School students study medicine in ancient civilizations in one of 13 new classes added by a student vote. (WCYB/Caleb Perhne)

    Getting teenagers excited about learning may seem an impossible task, but Elizabethton High School is doing it with 13 new elective classes, taking a new project-based, hands-on approach.

    "Teenagers tend to learn better when they're doing something versus application after the fact,” school counselor Megan Ellis said.

    The idea came after teachers saw success with the Bartleby program piloted last year which brought in a few hands-on classes.

    Students voted on what to add this year: anything from “The Art of Arguing” to yoga.

    Rachel Wagner even let her science students decide what topics to cover.

    "They see why they're having to learn all this stuff, why they're spending so much time in school,” Wagner said. “It'll hopefully inspire them to be interested in science after graduation."

    Malana Griffey is researching how to improve education in the Research Institute class. She’ll then vie for a grant to make her ideas happen.

    "I love research to begin with,” Griffey said. “Mr. Hensley gives us the option to pick things we're actually interested in rather than saying you have to study this."

    Aubrey Toncray is researching with friends to design a bag to prevent food from rotting and being wasted.

    "Now being able to do this and apply for grant money and know that our ideas can matter and be involved in the world and help, it's really inspiring,” Toncray said.

    Teachers hope that inspiration with carry over into real life.

    In addition to the new classes, the school is adding a blended history and English class. They’re also adding new spaces for building projects and even a TV studio. Teachers are getting special training to lead the new classes.

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