By: Braden Roosevelt, Class of 2023

St. Joseph Middle School underwent a huge change, adding a new set of classes to the schedule. At the end of every Thursday, students file into classes that range from learning life skills to putting on a passion play.

“I think the quarter classes are a great way for students to explore their interests outside of sports because we don’t have a lot of clubs,” St. Joseph Assistant-Principal Katie Reed said.

Addison Stevens and Jerome Bastian Ibarguengoitia hold flour babies that were part of the Life Skills quarter class.

Addison Stevens and Jerome Bastian Ibarguengoitia hold flour babies that were part of the Life Skills quarter class.

The idea came to Ms. Reed this summer as she was pondering how to get students involved in club-like activities the middle school lacked.

“We had teachers, parents, and volunteers teach the quarter classes,” Ms. Reed said.

Quarter classes include MATHCOUNTS, where students participate in a nationwide math program, Life Skills, where students learn everyday living skills, Practical Money Skills, where students learn to save and budget, Chapel Society, where students take care of the St. Jose Sanchez del Rio chapel, Service Learning, where student work with Jerilee Rose of Operation Christmas Child, Drama, where student produce both a Christmas and a Passion Play, Conditioning and Wellness, where students establish healthy habits, Crocheting, where students crocheted hats for charity, Photography, where students produce a video/audio slideshow, and Coding, where student learn basic programming.

“Kids have learned acting and drama skills, as well as social skills because it mixes up the grade levels,” Ms. Reed said. “Kids who don’t normally hang out with each other are put in a position where they have to collaborate.”

Reece Parshall, Sean Gage, and Hayden Skutt in the Christmas Play produced by the Drama quarter class.

These classes were an immediate success.

“Quarter classes at St. Joseph have been a huge improvement over what we had in the past for extracurricular activities,” eighth-grader Greg Garfield said, who participates in the MATHCOUNTS quarter class.

“I like quarter classes because they give us a break from normal work so we can go and do something fun,” seventh-grader Max Shugars said, who participates in the MATHCOUNTS quarter class.

Ms. Reed is already thinking about future quarter classes,

“Next I think we can grow the classes even more to what the kids would like the classes to be,” Ms. Reed said. “We’ve had kids who’ve asked about cooking classes and others that have asked about model U.N.”

Quarter classes fit easily into the Thursday schedule. According to Ms. Reed, the only class that students have to miss is Advisory. The only time issue is wanting more time for new electives.

Students in the Chapel Society quarter classes spending time in reflective prayer.

“It would be really nice if we had a little extra time, which is something that we will look into next year,” Ms. Reed, who teaches the life skills quarter class. “I’ve had a blast teaching them. [Students] are learning all kinds of skills, and I wish I could teach one every quarter.”

It is a feeling other quarter class teachers share.

“It was quite rewarding to know that we were helping to bring happiness to children who may not receive anything else for Christmas,” said language arts teacher Elizabeth Casterline, who taught the crochet and service learning class.

As an eighth-grader who has taken the MATHCOUNTS quarter class, I feel quarter classes are a great chance for kids to take elective classes. The support for the classes has been immense, and I think that both kids and teachers have really benefited from them.

Braden Roosevelt is an 8th-grader at St. Joseph Middle School.

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Questions? Call Cathy Erskine at 269.963.1131