WACO schools prepare kids for life outside the classroom with J-term classes

WAYLAND — WACO Principal Tim Bartels is going to be just as surprised as anyone with what his students come up with by Jan. 10.

When school started again on Thursday, Jan. 3, students in seven to 11th-grade participated in a J-term. Short for “January-term,” the classes offered over these first six days of the semester teach skills outside the standard curriculum. Students are able to enroll in classes instructing them in things like cooking, changing oil in a car and cosplaying.

This is the school’s second year employing a J-term and Principal Bartels’ — who was hired in the interim — first year seeing it in action.

“Every single person in the building involved in it,” Bartels said. “The planning that’s gone into this — the amount of hours teachers spend getting ready is amazing. 100 percent credit to the teachers.”

The 11 included classes were selected by the teachers who based their decisions on what worked last year and what they knew would interest their students while teaching them practical skills. “Fantasy FX” — focused on cosplay — teaches students how to sew; “Designing the Dream” leads them through drafting a building based projects; and “Living on a Dime” instructs students in creating and living on a budget.

“While we have grades seven through 11 doing this, the seniors are doing internships,” Bartels said.

The school’s 12th-graders will be working with businesses that interest them. Many will be going to area companies while others are headed as far as the University of Iowa.

“We don’t grade this, we just check attendance,” Bartels said. “This isn’t necessarily the time to assign letter grades, it’s a time to learn beyond what is typically offered.”

Students will have a chance to show off their work at the end of the J-jerm on Thursday, Jan 10, from 6 to 8 p.m., when WACO Jr/Sr High School opens its doors for the public to see students demonstrate what they’ve learned and produced.