When middle school students start the second semester at the end of January, they'll have a new Stretch learning class to attend. Each morning, Monday through Thursday, students at both sites will have the chance to take 45-minute classes such as Guitar, Introduction to Babysitting, Current Events, Computer Programming, Debate and "Sounding off on the Puget Sound."

The first semester Stretch class has been filled with new curriculum, including lessons focused on Future Ready skills, real life skills such as learning about finances and study and organization skills. The idea behind the second semester classes (broken into two quarters) is to create additional opportunities for students to explore their individual interests, Summit Trail Principal Sean Cassidy said.

"The Stretch classes provide a venue for students to get that chance within the school day," Cassidy said. "Many of these topics are personal passions of our staff members and allow them to connect curriculum in unique ways for our kids. I'm excited to see how these themes grow and change based on interactions between students and staff over the next few years."

Maple View Principal Andy McGrath agreed.

"This fits very closely with some of the goals identified in the model review: The need for middle school students to have more choices in order to explore fields of interest and decide on paths they might like to follow in high school and college," McGrath said. "The first two quarters have been prescribed with little choice for students. Third and fourth quarter, we will really open up the student choice portion of Stretch and take a step closer to what this program was designed to do for students."

Additional choices at both schools will include Walking for Fitness, Creative Writing, Strategy Games, Solution Seekers and Greek Mythology. Students recently completed a survey to indicate their top few choices; they will be placed in classes with an effort to match each student with one of those choices. Students will primarily stay within grade levels, but some sixth-graders may be placed with seventh-graders, and some seventh-graders may have class with eighth-graders.

For the rest of this article, click here: https://goo.gl/JXsHWT