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‘Adulting Day:’ Frontier High School students learn everyday skills

Frontier High School students learn everyday skills

Photo by Michael Kelly Instructor Cat Bigley helps Frontier High School freshman Anthony Deal do a headstand during a session Wednesday to acquaint students with yoga. It was one of several off-the-books workshops offered at the school the day before Thanksgiving break.

NEW MATAMORAS – The last day at school before a holiday break often is somewhat unfocused as students look ahead to time off. Instead of their usual classes, Frontier High School students on Wednesday had a chance to learn something different.

Counselor Holly Cunningham said she borrowed the idea of an ‘Adulting Day’ after hearing about it from a teacher at Belpre City Schools. Instead of math, language arts and the usual curriculum, students attended hands-on sessions about skills and disciplines ranging from personal finance and insurance to auto maintenance and yoga.

“I’ve heard adults say ‘I wish they’d taught me that in school’ about things like buying insurance or managing a bank account, or auto maintenance,” she said.

Students spent the day shuttling from one practical session to another, some presented by school staff and others by community volunteers.

Science teacher Laura Hall pointed at a projector screen as about 15 students watched.

“There are four ways you can sew a button back on,” she said, indicating diagrams of each method.

“You start by going up through the bottom. Why? To hide the … starts with a ‘k’.”

A student called out, “Knot!”

“Right!” she said. “Then you go down, then back up, and over and over and over again.”

A student who got the hang of it shouted, “My grandma would be so proud of me.”

Down the hall, another group was cooking French toast in the home economics lab.

School secretary Victoria Cassady, co-leader of the session, said the group of juniors were doing fairly well.

“Most of them can crack an egg and know how to use measuring cups,” she said. The unmistakable aroma of the breakfast dish wafted through the halls of the building.

“I’ve cooked at school before, but this is my first time with French toast,’ Shianna Dalrymple said as she dunked a slice of bread in egg batter.

Wesbanco representatives Erin Pethtel and Beth Willey gave their students exercises in personal money management, telling them to start out with $150 for a fictional character, Jake, and write down daily expenses for a week.

“By Friday, how much does Jake have left?” Pethtel said. “Five dollars? Not exactly enough for dinner at Applebee’s, is it? Now go back through the week and see if there are some things he could have done without.”

For students comfortable with math, the two said, banking or accounting might be an appealing career choice. Wesbanco offers internships, hires entry-level tellers with a high school diploma, and will pay for further education for employees who want to advance, Pethtel said.

Checking accounts are available for children starting at age 14, she said.

“The sooner you start a relationship with a bank, the better,” she said.

Freshman Hunter Felter walked into the school office carrying a plate of French toast submerged in syrup and said a few words to the receptionist, who then summoned Ms. Banks, Felton’s favorite teacher, to the office.

Lori Banks, who teaches algebra, strolled into the office and goggled at the plate, then Felton.

“Well this is really unexpected,” she said. “Thank you.”

She added, “He’s a great math student.”

Felton said he’d made French toast before, but not at school.

“And not this good,” he said.

At that point in the morning, he’d been to sessions on cooking, yoga and sewing.

“The yoga, it was more calming than I expected,” he said. “Sewing, I just wasn’t very good at that.”

Eighth grader Alexa Allen, on her way to the sewing class, said she’d been in the insurance, banking and auto maintenance classes.

“Some of it will be helpful when I start thinking about careers or college, and I learned how to change the oil on a car,” she said.

Junior Logan Haught said she enjoyed the class on effective communication.

“Some really good tips on helping get a job, like a good handshake, writing emails that get to the point, I can really use those for job opportunities and college,” she said. Haught intends to study chiropracty.

Cat Bigley offered yoga instruction in the school’s big media room.

“I’m showing them it’s the gateway to mindful practice,” she said. “I think the kids are hungry for it but they don’t know where to start.”

Although Frontier wouldn’t be considered a traditional yoga cultural area, Bigley said she was pleasantly surprised that some students already have parts of the yoga vocabulary, such as ‘namaste,’ a typical greeting in Sanskrit.

Bigley is working with Mindfulness Holistic Wellness and Healing, a recovery facility in St. Marys, W.Va. She said the boys seemed particularly enthusiastic about accomplishing some of the poses.

Freshman Anthony Deal tried out the headstand, managing with a bit of help from Bigley.

“It was fun,” he said later. “I might try taking it up. There’s more to it than you think, enlightenment, other cool stuff.”

Cunningham said she intends to take a survey of the students to gauge their response to the adulting day offering.

“I’m hoping after this they’ll think of me as a connection, a resource for this sort of thing,” she said.

Michael Kelly can be contacted at mkelly@mariettatimes.com.

‘Adulting Day’

at Frontier High School

• Offered short training sessions in everyday skills

• Workshops included managing money, personal finance, insurance basics, healthy relationships, basic automotive skills, laundry and basic sewing skills, yoga/relaxation, communication skills, mental health wellness, cooking basics, and drug-free choices.

Source: Frontier High School

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