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November 6, 1998     Cape Gazette
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November 6, 1998

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CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, November 6 - November 12, 1998 - 45 SCHOOL .& EDUCATION Overcoming obstacles emphasized in new career program Cape High School students work together, exploring opportunities By Jim Cresson High school psychologist Dave Jefferson was experiencing a cou- ple of different feelings deep in his gut as he draped over the Wall of Challenge to help Joker Joe to the top: he knew both he and Joker Joe were hurting, and he knew the "elements course" was working. Moments later, a jubilant Joker Joe stood at the summit of the wall and called down encouragement to classmates King Keith, Big Bruce, Mighty Mike, Roger Rab- bit and Froggy Francis: "It's tough, but you can do it." His fellow students stood at the base of the wall, 15 feet below, marveling at their 200-pound bud- dy who had just scaled it with a boost from them and a hoist from Jefferson. With a team approach and group effort, they were Over- coming challenges that had seemed impossible just days earli- er, and they were smiling broadly with the success. Only Mighty Mike was uncon- vinced and said so: "I ain't doin' it; I'll help give you guys a lift, but I'm not going up, and nobody can make me. It's my choice, remem- ber?" He stared at the ground, ready for an onslaught of respons- es. But the group accepted Mighty Mike's choice without grousing or ,ribbing him. Three days earlier, the verbal cuts would have come fast and furious, and the entire scene could have turned to shout- ing and blame-fixing, or worse. Overcoming challenges That was before the six Cape Henlopen High School special education students had gone on the field trip to Camp Barnes and learned the meaning of being a group and using teamwork and trust to solve their problems. That was before they had met the chal- lenges of the elements course. As "Delightful Dave" Jefferson explained the objectives of the elements course, it is designed to make a cohesive, positive-think- ing unit out of any group of peo- ple. Corporate executives take the course to improve their efficiency at work; sports teams take it to better their performance during games; and special students take it to learn the advantages of working together, using each other's resources, to meet group chal- lenges. Everyone has challenges that can be obstacles in life, explains Jefferson. Special-ed students are no different in that respect; like everyone else, they just need to be taught how to meet their chal- lenges. Opportunities, and more The special students from Cape Henlopen High School are getting that instruction, and plenty more, at a newly created class called the Career Opportunities Program. Career Opportunities, itself a challenge to the Cape Henlopen School District, was born of necessity when Sussex Vo Tech decided last spring it would no longer operate the Broad Creek School, which had for years taught Continued on page 46 I Angie Moon photo It has been a long, hard journey for Career Opportu- nities Program students to reach these heights. They have been through high school special education and the Broad Creek School at Sussex Tech before coming back to the Cape district and trying their luck at the new Career Opportunities Center. Above, "Roger Rabbit" gets a word of encouragement before trying the elements course. Left, psychologist Dave Jef- ferson helps "King Keith" learn trust. Jim Cresson photo Diane Albanese majesty with the Capitol building. It is grand. Standing in the rotunda on the very place where Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy have laid in state sent shivers down my spine. Students were in awe at the size and d6cor. The dome is capped by a magnificent fresco with George Washington himself watching over all. There are large paintings depicting our nation's history. So much history, so little time to teach. " Next stop, Planet Hollywood for lunch. From the sublime to the ridiculous. In the Capitol, students were forced to be quiet and listen. In Planet Hollywood, students had to talk loudly to be heard above the films and music being broad- cast from 17 different movie screens. Everywhere you looked there was a costume or a prop from a movie. "The Terminator', costume was there, complete with bullet holes on a mannequin with a face that lit upto resemble Arnold Schwarzenegger. Students were delighted. The constant sounds, the action. Intense. Next, we wandered through the Smithsonian Museum of Ameri- can History My students liked looking at the cool racecar, the neat displays, but didn't want to stop and read the information that accompanied the exhibit. They grew bored with me as I read through the text. I tried to engage them in reading, but they were mostly interested in finding video- like games that were scattered through the exhibit. If it had a screen hooked up to it and was interactive, then they would take time to learn from it. Other than that, they wandered off. What does that say in terms of how tomorrow's generation approaches learning? In a technol- ogy inservice recently, Pat Sine, from the University of Delaware, warned teachers that students of today never knew a time where computers did not exist. Children today grew up with technology and are accustomed to learning and playing in an interac- tive, individual manner. Televi- sion, videos and computer games have entertained students. Muse- ums and schools have a long way to go to capture and maintain stu- dent interest using high-tech, interactive methods. Students don't always realize that the technology can be a vehi- cle for learning, but reading and comprehension still must take place for information to be synthe- sized and understood. Washington, D.C., is a place of wonder, a place of contrasts. Teachers are charged with the task of helping students to make sense of a changing, dynamic world, given the resources that now exist within our classrooms. Listening, thinking, reading, writing. No easy task. Diane Saienni Albanese is a parent and a teacher in the Cape Henlopen School District and at Del Tech in Georgetown. Last week we took a large group of children to Washington, D.C., for a firsthand look at the place where our legislators do business. First stop was the Capitol. This past summer, two guards were shot and killed as a gunman tried to gain entry into a side door of the Capitol. The security seemed tighter. We had to wait longer to get in than in years past. There are no advance reservations. We waited again to pass through metal detectors and travel in small groups. The threat of violence at this sacred place made the atmos- phere more somber. All the more reason that students should tour the Capitol. The work done here is central to the function of a democ- racy. Students need a clear under- standing of this process to be able to appreciate the structure of our country. "E pluribus unum." There isn't much that compares in size, weight (all that marble) or SCHOOL JOURNAL The nation's capital- a place of contrasts, wonder