Whether they were munching on smoked meat, assembling a toilet, decorating cupcakes or swing dancing, Centura students were learning.
On Thursday and Friday, Centura High School students participated in Centura Discovery Days. Organizer Doug Voigt said that Discovery Days isn’t a career fair, but rather a broad range of jobs, hobbies and activities for students to try and learn about. Two science teachers, Robin Keilig and David Morris, went to a conference two years ago in Cozad, where they heard of a similar thing the school did there. They decided to bring the idea to Centura, thus, Centura Discovery Days.
There were 39 different classes students could choose from. Voigt said planning began in the fall, with the help from community volunteers, teachers and Tammy Holcomb, the high school principal. He said a survey was sent out to students to gauge their interests and what they’d want at Discovery Days. Voigt said photography and self-defense were popular topics students wanted to learn about.
Once students expressed what they’d be interested in, staff worked to find people in the community who would fit those topics. Some teachers even stepped up and taught classes. Among some of the classes offered was: canvas art painting, storm chasing, Tae Kwon Do, dog grooming, country swing dance, cupcake wars, robotics, smoking meat, fantasy football, leather working, chess, archery and cabinet building and countertops.
“It’s been quite an experience and a broad range of topics,” Voigt said.
He said Third City Archers allowed 55 students to come learn archery and shoot. Voigt said that was very nice of them to do that. He also mentioned that students could also choose to learn about landscaping and tour Lewis Greenscape, as well as learn about ammunition and bullets with a tour at Hornady Manufacturing.
Kate Bohling, an English teacher at Centura, taught the cupcake wars class. She made 24 dozen cupcakes for the class. Students had three timed decorating challenges, she said. The first round of challenges was a theme, such as peeps, candyland and monsters. The second challenge she had one group only use a mini tasting fork to decorate the cupcakes, and the fork had to be incorporated into the decoration. The third challenge was about how creative the students could decorate.
She said throughout the classes she’s seen students decorate cupcakes like spaghetti and meatballs, Sesame Street and many other things.
“They’ve just been crazy creative,” Bohling said.
The uneaten cupcakes were sold after school, with proceeds going to Navi Nielsen, a Centura student in the hospital, who was involved in a fatal accident a few weeks ago. Another Centura student, Bailey Jean Packer, died in the accident.
Brandon Jacques and his wife taught the smoking meats class. Jacques said he caters and cooks for his church. He and his wife taught a full class about cleanliness, types of smokers, types of meat and cooking tips.
“They’re not afraid to eat stuff and they’re not afraid to touch the meat when it’s raw,” Jacques said of the students.
The students of course got to taste what they were learning about.
Heather Hewitt, a senior, was at State Speech on Thursday so Friday was the only day she participated in Discovery Days. She chose to learn about smoking meats, which her tastebuds really enjoyed.
“It’s delicious,” Hewitt said.
She got to make and eat chicken wings, pork butt, and bacon-wrapped meatballs.
Jacques said he enjoyed teaching the students and that he’d love to do it again.
“It’s something that I’d love to do all the time,” Jacques said.
Seventh-graders Ryan Schweitzer, Nolan Hurt, Keaton Lemburg and Dillon Dubbs participated in the concrete and toilet repair class on Thursday. The boys said they enjoyed the class and learned new things. They assembled a toilet and mixed concrete to make and decorate pavers. They went on a scavenger hunt outside to find items, such as bones and rocks to put in the concrete pavers.
“We had the perfect person teaching us,” Dubbs said. The instructor was Jerry Nott.
The boys said they enjoyed learning some new skills.
“Versus having someone come and do it for you, you can do your own,” Lemburg said.
Other students opted to learn how to country swing dance, which was taught by Nott and foreign language teacher Steph McInturf.
Students paired up and learned different county swing dance moves, including the pretzel. McInturf and her husband Derek danced to “Fishin’ in the Dark” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to show students how it’s done.
McInturf said the students were laughing and having fun, even though some of them seemed nervous at the start.
“It’s been fun this morning to see them gain some confidence,” McInturf said.
Voigt said there’s plans to continue to do Discovery Days next year.
This information was reported in the Grand Island Independent on March 23, 2018 by Kelli Rollin. Picture by Andrew Carpenean, from the Independent.