By Dr. Curtis Varnell
Magazine High School offers students a usual opportunity to explore the world of work while earning their high school diploma. Given permission by the Arkansas Department of Education, Magazine developed their own version of preparing kids to explore the world of opportunities offered through vocational education.
Students who choose the new vocational route explore area occupations as they learn the traditional math, science, and literacy expected of a high school graduate. In a recent class, instructor Lance Holt allowed students to explore occupations available in forestry such as forest ranger, forestry department employee, pulp wood supplier, and lumber supplier. In science, students learned tree identification and growth. They learned math by triangulating the tree and figuring the weight of the tree by the circumference and height. They also look at typical pay and yearly salaries and often write about the occupations after researching what they offer to employees. Instruction is offered across the curriculum with the career as a basis for study.
The most recent trip was to Petite Jean Mountain. Students were to develop an explanation of the phenomena that has shaped the mountains over time. How were turtle rocks formed? How did the large boulders separate from the Hartshorne layer and form the many cracks, caves, and overhangs found along the trail?
At Rock House cave, students searched for Native American drawings as well as studied the various plants and animals found along the trails.
Mr. Holt believes strongly that students learn best by seeing, doing, and exploring the real world. They use the activity based lesson as a hook to get students interested and then further the study across the curriculum within the classroom after they return to Magazine schools.
Future lessons will include an investigation of rock quarries, air and history museum, game and fish eagle watch, Magazine mountain geology and history, and the Huckabee Nature center. Thinking and exploring out of the traditional box allows students to develop their own vocational interest. According to Mr. Holt, many of the students want to live and work in Arkansas but do not know the various jobs that are available or the skills needed to pursue that career. Most high schools prepare students for college careers and that doesn’t fit most of our kids. We here at Magazine try to prepare our kids for life!