SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — Sixth-grade students in the Ashtabula Area City Schools’ gifted program got a taste of high school Thursday.
The students and their teacher, Theresa Clutter, were guests of Spanish, social studies and advanced placement biology teachers and their students at Lakeside High School. Rosemary Timonere, supervisor of the program, said the visit was a matter of bringing many of the high school students full circle.
“When I was a teacher, I took my sixth-graders to the (biology) class and they did a lesson on genetics,” Timonere said. “They loved it. Now the kids that were in my class are in (Brian Toth’s) class.”
Toth was one of the three Lakeside teachers who opened his classroom to the gifted students. Toth, assisted by his advanced placement students, led the gifted students through a science project using paper bones. The students randomly selected four bones from an envelope and then tried to figure out what kind of creature the bones would have come from.
In the social studies class taught by Janice Timonere, the sixth-graders worked with juniors to come up with catchy political slogans. The group activities generated slogans like “Strive,” “A vote for me to stay free” and “Believe big,” as well as a lot of noise as the students bounced around ideas and jokes.
“I think high school students have a lot more fun than elementary school students have,” said Drew Kiphart, one of the sixth graders. “We would probably be getting yelled at by one of my elementary teachers if we were this loud in class.”
Rosemary Timonere said exchanges between the high school students and gifted program, which is for grades 3 through 6, go on throughout the year. Rita Timonere’s Spanish students do a weekly Spanish lessons with the sixth-grade gifted students at their school. French students from the high school do the same for the third-graders.
Fourth-graders in the program learn Japanese and fifth graders are introduced to German by adult instructors.
“We’re able to offer in the gifted program all these different languages and (some) are being taught by the 11th and 12th graders,” Timonere said.
During the high school visit on Thursday, the sixth-graders also learned about extracurricular activities and course options they’ll face in just two years. They also made friends with Lakeside students as they worked with them in small groups.
“I really like getting to hang out with high school students and seeing what it is going to be like in high school,” said Giavanna Edgell. “I like my group.”
Drew Kiphart said he already knew one of the students from his church and wasn’t afraid to poke fun of his mustache on his political slogan.
The students also discovered that high school teachers can be just as much fun as those in elementary. Toth, sporting a snowman tie, stood on his desk to make a point about the fossils.
“I try to make things fun in my class,” he said. “I use my hands a lot, and, no, I’m not Italian.”
“But I am!” quipped one of the sixth-graders.