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Bulletin Board: Francis Howell builds 21st century skills through music

Saeger music production students working together.

Saeger music production students working together.

Francis Howell builds 21st century skills through music

At Francis Howell middle schools, there’s a new kid in town – the Music Production and Technology class. The end goal is to see more creativity in the music classroom.

The Music Production and Technology class is the collaborative work of Dr. Chris Greiner, director of student learning, and Michelle Ridlen, K-12 fine arts curriculum content leader. A few years ago, they gathered some of the piano keyboarding teachers to brainstorm a new kind of program. The idea was to put together a state of the art program that used 21st century skills and technology to allow students to create and produce musical ideas.

Teachers Ginger Herin, Patrick Keller and Michael Lacey researched options and together built the Music Production and Technology curriculum from the ground up. They visited a similar program for high school students in the Clayton school district, as well as the audio production program at Webster University for ideas. It took over two years, and a lot of hard work, before the curriculum was complete.

“I think it’s probably safe to say, that for all of us on the curriculum team – we have invested many years and energy into fostering creativity and music education for students in our district and so we would have been excited to help create any kind of new music class,” said Keller, who teaches the class at Saeger Middle.

This year was the first year the class was offered and it “didn’t take long for me to overhear talk in the hallways of this cool, new MPT class,” Keller said. “I was seeing a different kind of kid get excited and be inspired by the class. That was very cool to see. Some of these kids had no interest in the performance aspect of a class like band or choir, but were thrilled to play the role of music producer, or maybe they just wanted a place to create away from the typical spotlight of a music class.

Out of a class of 25 seventh-grade students at Saeger, 12 said the skills they are learning are something they could see themselves doing as a future career.

“In other classes we are open to our opinions, but it’s always through worksheets. In here you may have guidelines, but they aren’t that strict and you can be creatively open minded – there aren’t that many boundaries,” said student Taylor Krieg.

One of the main class projects for the year is called, “Introduce Yourself Through Music” where students make a presentation about themselves. It’s like opening a window to self exploration with music and technology.

“Maybe it’s a student who doesn’t shine in too many areas throughout the day. Maybe it’s the kid whose voice you rarely hear. Suddenly you hear a confident, booming voice speaking passionately about their life. I’ve been close to tears several times,” Keller said. “Many of the kids have shared some powerful stories and topics. The music they produce is amazing. Any time a middle school student is able to express themselves through music or with their voice it is a success, and now they’ve got an MP3 that they’re able to have [that experience] forever or share [it] with others. That’s one of the goals, getting them to share.”

[For more on this story, visit www.midriversnewsmagazine.com]


WordMasters perfection

Paul McClain, a sixth-grader at the Academy of the Sacred Heart, received a perfect score in the second of three meets at this year’s WordMasters Challenge, a national vocabulary competition involving nearly 150,000 students.

Competing in the difficult Blue Division, Paul earned a perfect score of 20 in the competition’s recent meet. Nationally, only 11 sixth-graders achieved a perfect score. Paul and his classmates were coached by Mrs. Laura Craig.

The WordMasters Challenge is an exercise in critical thinking that first encourages students in grades three through eight, to become familiar with a set of interesting new words [considerably harder than grade level], and then challenges them to use those words to complete analogies expressing various kinds of logical relationships. Working to solve the analogies helps students learn to think both analytically and metaphorically.


Foundation awards over $10,000 in grants

The Wentzville School District Foundation has announced the winners of its 2016 Teacher Mini-Grants. Foundation Directors Dr. Curtis Cain, Janet O’Brien, Martin Ghafoori and Mary LaPak handed out 12 checks totaling $6,000 to deserving teachers at eight different district buildings. In addition, Liberty High, Wentzville Middle, Lakeview Elementary and Pearce Hall received building grants totaling $4,500.

Those receiving awards and their projects are:

  • Keri Skeeters, Greg Lawrence and Samantha Knoll, District Film Festival
  • Marc Tiernan, Green Gym
  • Ed Picone, Green Smart Project Lead The Way Room
  • Sally Schulte, Chelsea Kuhn and Stacy Outman, Alternative Seating for K-5
  • Barb Stepp, Club Sphero
  • Kim Broadley, Full STEAM Ahead
  • Kelly Oliva and Sarah Genenbacher, The Refashion Runway Camp
  • Constance Hallemeier, Wii Love Statistics
  • Laura Ives, Building Reading Hype with Authors Using Skype
  • Danielle Todd, Play with a Purpose
  • Erica Wagner, Community of Readers Program
  • Danielle Eads, Understanding Visual Impairments
  • Ed Picone/Project Lead The Way, School Robot
  • Sarah Genenbacher, Advanced Fashion Construction
  • Doug Holler and Alexa Hanna, It’s All About the Money, Money
  • Tricia Mahoney, Community Closet


Youth Tour delegates [from left] Justin Rice, Emily Baalman, Leo Kniffen, Clare Citrowske, Kai Rogers and Kacie Francois

Youth Tour delegates [from left] Justin Rice,
Emily Baalman, Leo Kniffen, Clare Citrowske,
Kai Rogers and Kacie Francois

Youth Tour winners announced

Cuivre River Electric Cooperative has named six local students as members of its Youth Tour delegation for 2016.

To qualify, the youth presented essays entitled “My Favorite Cooperative Principle” to judges and guests attending the Cuivre River Electric Cooperative’s 48th Annual Youth Tour Final Competition. Speeches and cooperative quiz scores determined the selection of the Youth Tour delegates, who will travel to Washington, D.C., this summer.

The six students chosen are Kacie Francois, of Timberland High; Leo Kniffen and Justin Rice, both of Warrenton High; Kai Rogers, of Winfield High; and homeschool students Emily Baalman and Clare Citrowske. Anna Chandler, of Warrenton High, will serve as a Youth Tour first-alternate and Sarah Turner, of Lutheran High, will serve as the second-alternate, should any of the delegates be unable to attend.

The six runners-up in the contest received a $500 Cuivre River Youth Tour scholarship to the university or college of their choice. Those students include Turner and Chandler as well as Rebecca Purcell, of Francis Howell North High; Richard Schneider, of Timberland High; and Karley Kaimann and Abigail White, both of Winfield High.

“Our program’s success can be attributed to the overwhelming support we receive each year from our high school teachers,” said Lonnie Tucker, communication specialist and Youth Tour coordinator.

Teachers honored at this year’s banquet included Michelle Dunaway and Mike Storm, both of Francis Howell High; Jordyn Kiel, of Francis Howell North High; Amy Klein, of Lutheran High; Carmen Watson, of Silex High; Jeremy Boesch, Bridget Campbell, Amanda Moody, Megan Sellers and Kevin Porter, all of Timberland High; Amanda Franke and Kristine Heimburger, both of Warrenton High; and Sharon Bader of Winfield High.

[YOUTHTOURWINNERS PHOTO/CUTLINE:] Cuivre River Electric’s 2016 Youth Tour delegates [from left] Justin Rice, Emily Baalman, Leo Kniffen, Clare Citrowske, Kai Rogers and Kacie Francois.


Tourism contest offers students chance to visit and win

The St. Louis Civic Pride Foundation is inviting St. Louisans in grades three through 12 to participate in the 2016 Ultimate Tourist Contest, where they can win a $500 cash prize for visiting and writing about their area tourism experiences this summer.

Participants must visit at least three St. Louis area attractions then write about their journeys through an essay [500 words or less] or by creating a brief video.

Each entry will be judged on its own merits with the winners chosen by a selection committee comprised of St. Louis Civic Pride Foundation board members. The winning entries will be featured in Explore St. Louis’ 2017 Official Visitors Guide and posted on www.explorestlouis.com for a full year.

The Ultimate Tourist Contest is open to students, ages 8 to 18. Entries will be accepted through Sept. 5, but are limited to one entry per student. For more information on contest rules, visit www.explorestlouis.com/ultimatetourist.



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