MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon High School played host to the Mount Vernon City Schools district board of education November meeting Monday evening, which highlighted two new programs available to students at the school. The new programs place an emphasis on cultural engagement and education, with the Global Scholars program and the Film and Literature Club.
This is the second year that the Global Scholars program has existed at MVHS, but this is the first year with students, Spanish teacher and Global Scholars Program head Clayton Tocheff explained to the board. Last year served as a planning year for the program, but this year there are now 20 participating students.
“I really have to say I appreciate working for a school district that values global education,” Tocheff said.
Three students in the program, Meke Waal, Grace Zoldak and Jordan Schisler, explained to the board that the Global Scholars program offers three main points of appreciation for them: social opportunities to meet with other students from all over Ohio that are interested in global affairs, leadership opportunities to discuss important global issues with others and new experiences through the enrichment programs, which can include topics like immigration, technology, global business and culture.
“There are many new opportunities that you get through this program, through the face-to-face events and the enrichment experiences,” Schisler said. “The Honda plant visit was very interesting because you got to go to their museum and see the history of Honda and you got to interact with their technology, their robotic arms, it was cool. We also got to talk with business associates from AEP, L brands, BMW and Honda and talk about their careers, to get us sort of interested in those careers or how to apply our skills to careers in fields we want to go into.”
Schisler explained that the enrichment experiences at the high school open their eyes to global issues and help them learn about the slight differences in different cultures. Zoldak added that these experiences have allowed them to consider new career paths in the global arena, like engineering or journalism, and to apply what they’re interested in the classroom and connecting it to a global career. Traveling abroad to study is also discussed during these experiences, Waal said, which helps students who are not yet sure what they want to study in college or which career path they are interested in.
Three other teachers are involved in the program, MVHS Principal Scott Will explained, with Spanish teacher Dena Hooley, French teacher Jennifer Bishop and History teacher Rob Fetters also contributing to the global education of these students.
“During the first two years of the program they’re being exposed to a lot of different experiences, during which, they’re thinking about global issues they’re passionate about,” Tocheff said. “The third year they design and implement an action project. Sometimes it’s not enough to feel strongly about things going on in our community and around the world, but to take action to make the world a better place.”
The future goals of the MVHS Film and Literature club were presented by advisor and English teacher Frank Scutella. The club is in its first year at MVHS, he said, and it encourages students to dissect and analyze film fundamentals, including cinematography, camera angles, editing, props and lighting, for nuanced meaning in classic films like Orson Welles’s “Citizen Kane.”
Scutella explained that he would like to see the club become an elective for students to take as a class, which would encourage students to study film as an art or literature through the class and present their research and analysis in a podcast hosted in Scutella’s classroom. Scutella also presented goals for a senior citizen film afternoon, where the club could host a classic film screening and provide detailed information to seniors on their favorite films, as well as a short film project for students to present to the community at large.
Two special education teachers within the district, Jessica Mather and Chris Kirkhope, head of Transition U, presented to the board the strides that have been made for the education and employment of students with developmental disabilities. Mather explained that the two educators overlap in many ways, but they fill fundamentally different purposes — Mather works with students in traditional high school ninth through 12th grades with the Ohio Extended Learning Standards, while Kirkhope helps students after high school, up to age 22, through the Knox County Educational Service Center.
Mather helps students in a path to earn enough credits for their high school diploma, vocational skills, as well as daily living skills, such as folding clothes, basic cooking, dishes and fine motor skills.
She explained that inclusion is another area of interest in the program, with some of her students involved in physical education, choir and business basics classes at the high school, as well as a student taking classes at the Knox County Career Center.
Transition U, Kirkhope explained, brings participants from all of the county schools, as well as surrounding areas into a program that focuses on integrated employment and independent living. Kirkhope said the program teaches hygiene, nutrition and life skills through charts and portfolios the participants fill out every day.
The program also partners with local businesses and organizations, like Bakers IGA, Amato’s Woodfired Pizza, Premiere Theaters in Mount Vernon, Salvation Army, Escape Zone, Crossfit 1808 and MVHS to provide employment opportunities for the participants to gain and build their workplace skills.