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Students try new activities with exploratory day

On any other school day, Kelsey Stroot would spend first hour in geography.

Wednesday, however, she and friends Sophia Urbaniak and Sidney McConkey were crafting greeting cards.

It was part of Forestview Middle School’s first eighth grade Exploratory Day.

The special event brings in a handful of activities from which students may pick. Children selected their favorites from a list of 24 choices and were assigned three by staff.

The list included sessions in areas like cribbage, dog obedience, golf, knitting, personal finance, yoga and fantasy card games. Sessions were taught by teachers or by community volunteers.

Assistant Principal Tammy Dewey brought the idea to staff in an effort to help spark an interest among students in new activities.

“The eighth-graders are the oldest in the building,” she said. “High school is next and they get the opportunity to pick some courses. This is the time they first really start thinking of a job or career.”

With exposure to activities they might not have otherwise tried, it opens up their eyes to something new, said Forestview science teacher Sandy Loney.

Loney decided to host a session about BMX bikes in her room to pull in the kids who don’t grasp the traditional courses.

“This is the perfect age to explore who they are and what they like,” she said.

Middle schoolers are leaving childhood and becoming young adults. The exploratory day gives them an opportunity to try something new. If they don’t like it, that’s OK.

“It’s neat because this is what a true middle school does,” she said.

Stroot, Urbaniak and McConkey aren’t usually the card making type. In fact, Wednesday was their first time stamping colored paper and folding it in half to form a card.

It was a nice break from class, though, and the girls realized it’s actually pretty fun.

Across the hallway, an even larger group of students was getting a lesson in vegetables.

This lesson in garnishing made eating your veggies a lot more fun.

Volunteer Sharon Carlson twisted a knife around a carrot, carving out a flower. Next up, she would teach the students to make their own bird from the leafy greens and other healthy snacks.

Forestview teacher Sherry Wiltse tries to tell her students how important vegetables are, but words can only go so far.

Showing them how to garnish the healthy snack will hopefully inspire them to eat more, she said.

There will be two more Exploratory Days this year at Forestview, one in February and the other in April.

It’s a tradition Dewey hopes will continue each year.

JESSICA LARSEN may be reached at or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at