Get real

Connecting classroom learning to the real world is the goal of the Oak Harbor Education Foundation’s Applied Learning grants. Raising money to support that goal was the mission of the 2003 Breakfast for Education held Tuesday morning at the CPO Club.

More than 120 local business people and school supporters attended the fundraising breakfast for an update on the district-wide program, which works to put students in touch with real-life experiences to supplement what they learn in school.

Board member Cynthia Shelton outlined a few of the ways in which applied learning is essential to a student’s education. By working on community-based projects students learn to handle changes, plan long term, take risks and innovate, and manage information through technology, among other qualities that contribute to “workplace know-how.”

“Those are skills we all want,” Shelton said. “And they’re almost impossible to develop in the classroom.” The Applied Learning grants allow a “life-like application of scholastic knowledge,” she said.

Oak Harbor Elementary Principal Dorothy Day and fifth grade teacher Randy Ross presented the results of a school-wide project, in which the school “adopted” Deception Pass State Park.

Funded by a $2,000 Applied Learning grant, each grade level addressed a different aspect of caring for the park. Kindergarteners made an ABC book of “Park Etiquette,” first grade students made sand dune models, third grade classes learned to use the “Publisher” software program to make park brochures, learned the history of the park and built bat houses. Fourth grade students learned about old-growth forests. Fifth grade classes tested the water quality of Cranberry Lake, and made a video of all the student projects.

Ross presented the video to the breakfast participants. While most of it was solemnly narrated, one shot of a slide with crawly pond life under a microscope was narrated only by squeals of horror. No explanation was needed and the crowd chuckled in appreciation.

Displayed around the banquet room were nature-themed ceramic tiles made by the students, which will be used to decorate utility boxes at Deception Pass State Park.

Other projects funded in the third year of the grant program were a high school marine science research experience, Crescent Harbor estuary study and restoration by North Whidbey Middle School students, Magic with Mozart, with Broad View Elementary students, a documentary of the history of Broad View with Broad View students and How Does Your Garden Grow? with Olympic View students.

The Oak Harbor Education Foundation hoped to raise $3,000 at the breakfast, to fund even more Applied Learning grants this year. The number of grants distributed has increased from two in 2000, to four in 2001, and six last year.

Shelton urged the business people attending to get involved in mentoring students, helping them make the transition to the real world.

“All businesses can offer something to help involve kids,” she said.

You can reach News-Times reporter Marcie Miller at mmiller@whidbey or call 675-6611

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