HSE High School instructors didn’t have to follow the curriculum on April 28. Instead, they presented on things they were enthusiastic about, regardless of whether they fit within their classroom subject matter. Students might register for sessions they liked.
Language arts instructor Kelsey Habig called Choice Day “a day designated for curiosity, camaraderie, and community – learning for the simple joy of learning.”
HSE piloted a Choice Day with freshmen and sophomores during Pathways, an eighth period for academic help, club meetings, and employability skills, earlier in the year.
“Looking forward to April 28, we knew we needed a plan because Fishers (High School) was holding a service day,” said Assistant Principal Stacey Brown. “Let’s try a school-wide Choice Day.”
Administrators designed the day to foster school culture and community. They encouraged pupils to try new things and meet new professors.
“Sometimes people walk the same paths every day,” Brown remarked. “Choice Day opens new doors.”
Teachers simply have to give one academic assistance class. Some teachers gave simulated AP examinations during academic support, while others remedied particular pupils.
“Obviously academics are the priority,”
Teachers had five periods every day to address any topic, including work periods.
“We threw out all the daily norms,” Habig added.
Many of the 150 HSE staff members offered multiple topic options throughout the day, giving the 3,400 students plenty of choices. Enriching Students, a school scheduling program, let them register.
German instructor Nichole Mathews stated the administration worked hard on this, especially Stacey Brown who had to figure out and manage all the scheduling using our Enriching Students app.
The administration received whispers that several kids were skipping, especially because Choice Day was the day before prom. Parents had to ring in to excuse their children.
Brown noted that some students had signed up for all-day study halls. They changed their schedules midway through the day since there was great stuff going on.
Pancakes, cupcakes, and grilling were popular. Sports and games were popular. Family tree and used automobile workshops were presented by teachers. One teacher taught “dirt fishing”—metal detecting.
Habig said kids spoke enthusiastically while installing a pathway in the green space between her classroom and the buses.
English as a New Language teacher Becky Schroeder stated youngsters sang while working.
Veterans spoke to several social studies instructors. Berkshire Hathaway realtors discussed real estate careers with prospective students. Tom Wood Automotive dispatched a rep.
Mathews invited local author Christopher Clouser to discuss creative writing with pupils. Clouser has 15 titles. His latest book, Argent’s Menagerie, contains fantasy, mystery, and science fiction. He addressed 40 pupils over two periods.
“I discussed my writing process,” Clouser remarked. “I answered writing questions around the room.”
Mathews and club president Rio Akachi performed a traditional tea ceremony for interested kids during two of her previous terms as Japanese Club sponsor.
Honors Biology instructor Kacy Probst and Fishers Fire Department’s Ashley Heckly taught 45 students CPR over five weeks. In one class hour, kids learned “friends and family” CPR, which teaches them emergency response skills.
Probst stated he liked Choice Day. “It was fun to teach a skill I couldn’t otherwise. It was good that children could spend a day learning and experiencing their interests.
On Monday, over 80% of poll respondents agreed HSE should do Choice Day more often.
Mathews stated it went well and will be better next time.
35% of survey respondents said their favorite part of the day was attempting a new activity or interest or choosing their school day.
Brown said she heard it was entertaining, a vacation, and a good way to meet other kids. “Students had many session ideas.” She even aspires for student-led choices.
Schroder said it was one of the most exciting days and promoted unity.
45% of respondents liked having a day to relax and have fun. Others liked engaging with students and staff.
“I haven’t felt joy and togetherness at school since before the pandemic,” Habig remarked.
Brown wants to bring in more neighborhood people and companies to lead sessions and give students additional options.
She wanted the school and community to work together.