BCS offers second intersession period

Administrators say new model is opening up new opportunities for students

BALDWIN — April 4 through Friday, April 15, marks the second intersession period for Baldwin Community Schools. Since switching to a balanced calendar model at the beginning of the current school year, the district has been taking advantage of the additional breaks from class by offering extra classes and more extra curricular activities for its students during those periods.

With the second of these periods in progress — the first having been the previous October — the district is seeing which parts of their intersession programs are working, which aren't and how the experience can be improved. Overall, administrators are pleased with the results thus far.

"I think it's going extremely well," said Baldwin High School Principal Calvin Patillo. "The kids are understanding better how they can take advantage of the interesting opportunities and parents are realizing it can be a chance for kids to get back on track with our make-up classes."

Intersession coordinator Scoot Pedigo said the district learned a lot from the first intersession period and said this second period is going far smoother, is providing a better experience for the kids and has resulted in great feedback from the community.

"The first one was a lot of getting the kinks out, while this time is going a lot smoother," said Pedigo. "I think there was an intimidation factor for parents during the first intersession period because they didn't know what to expect or how to adapt to the new schedule. We don't want our intersession periods to just be two more weeks of classes, we want them to be something special and positive."

Many of the classes offered give students from kindergarten through twelfth grade a chance to catch up in subjects they may have been struggling with, or offer them a chance to get a jump start on the next portion of their studies. Some students are even able to take online classes which they otherwise wouldn't have been able to fit into their normal schedules.

Additionally, there are several special classes or presentations students can take advantage of during their two weeks off from the semester. There was an entrepreneur class offered to high school students, a woodworking class taught through Michigan State University Extension, disc golf games and sewing classes, just to name a few. The extended break from regular classes also gives students and teachers a chance to go on extended trips which would otherwise require them from missing several days of school.

"It gives us a chance to do things both inside and outside the classroom we don't have a chance to do during our regular schedule," remarked Pedigo. "It also gives us more flexibility to try new things which don't fit in with the usual rigid curriculum. Plus, normally we wouldn't want kids gone for a week during class, but this let's us fit in programs like the band and choir trip to Washington D.C. or the high school students' college tour."

Administrators are finding more ways to expand the district's intersession periods and say they believe it is a groundbreaking new way to engage students, provide them with new opportunities and cut down on learning loss.

"A lot of our issues since the last time was more a matter of advertising with our families with what we were offering and our reaching out to different groups such as the Department of Natural Resources and Michigan State University Extension to take part in our intersession programs," said Pedigo. "Overall, our intersession attendance has gone up since the fall. We're finding out what programs work, what doesn't, and why. Our next goal is to reach out to new groups and find new ways to give something new to kids."