Beginning in the spring 2024 semester, Mancos RE-6 School District will replace elective courses with an exploratory course program, with the goal of providing a variety of offerings to Mancos middle schoolers.
Mancos Principal Ed Whritner told The Journal on Wednesday, Jan. 10, that after evaluating Mancos Middle School electives and offerings, they decided to move forward with exploratory courses.
“We worked really hard with teachers to be like, ‘Look, let’s make a really concerted effort to know that we have a really diverse variety of offerings,’” Whritner said.
According to a newsletter provided by the district, exploratory courses are seen “as an opportunity to try new things that they (students) may not otherwise get to. We aim to broaden their perspective, stretch their thinking, perhaps find an interest that is a lifelong hobby or future career path. By dabbling in a variety of subjects, students will be able to gain better insights about themselves and finding their passions.”
With the new exploratory courses track, students are given an enriched addition to their education, preparing them for high school pathway courses and connecting with Mancos’ Portrait of a Graduate.
“We wanted to make sure our electives are eye-opening for the kids in some way so that they’re getting some kind of experience and a good buffet of all these different possible fields, be they artistic or academic and more,” Whritner said.
According to the district, some of the values the exploratory courses will help foster in the district are respect, responsibility, positive and supportive attitude, curiosity, trying new things, growth, integrity, being a team player, problem solving, civic mindedness and learning practical skills.
To ensure the best experience for students each time they take a different exploratory course, Whritner said they requested their teachers “lock down” the “legacy classes” in which they wanted to teach exclusively.
“This way,” Whritner said, “not only are these courses consistent, but it really gives the teacher an opportunity to really build them and make them better every time,” as well as “open kids’ eyes to potential career pathways.”
In this new system, students are required to take all of the exploratory courses by the time they leave middle school and go to the high school, rather than students trying to choose and either not getting into the class they wish to take, or doubling up on the same class multiple times.
In addition, Whritner pointed out that this system also allows parents and students to know upfront which exploratory classes they would be taking, rather than plan out which electives to take each term.
Some of the courses offered include band, financial math, lab skills, strength and conditioning, drama, art, shop (first year being offered in the middle school), debate, academy, community connection, electricity and magnetism, hunting, American Sign Language, life lab, money, outdoor education, leadership, self-improvement, science fair, stress management, sustainability, where in the world and world cultures.
These courses will go hand in hand with the high school’s pathway courses, with include entrepreneurship, drone piloting, culinary, shop and more.
“We want students to explore all of the enrichment classes that our incredible middle school teachers offer,” Whritner said.