By Anna Young
The Carmel school district hosted its second annual Carmel Café to continue the district’s partnership with the community to find ways to improve the school system.
Carmel Café is a strategic planning session that brings students, parents, community members, teachers and administrators together in order to communicate new ways to embrace individuality and provide more opportunities for students to develop their passions in an ever-changing world.
With the mission to provide a trusting and supportive environment for students to excel, the district relies on collaboration, on-going feedback, and reflection to lead to growth within the school district.
During the session on Tuesday, Nov. 29, a series of questions were asked about how to improve empathy and understanding toward others, how to make sure students are given the platform to pursue their passions, what areas within the curriculum need focus, how to improve communication and the ideal way to introduce new ideas within the school district.
Despite the large amount of adults in attendance, it was the young students, primarily fourth graders from Matthew Paterson Elementary School, who were vocal about enriching their education and developing their passions.
While one student proposed cooking classes be made available in the middle school, others suggested the desire to participate in electives that specifically focus on topics including film, music, math, biology, writing, astronomy, art, computer technology, etc.
Many students suggested spending their free time during the school day attending classes that delve into their passion.
Parents strongly agreed that every student has their own interests and instead of requiring them to participate in an elective where they won’t excel, allow them to have the freedom to choose which electives benefit them most.
“Moving into the high school you need to know what track you’re on,” parent Amy Conroy said. “When you explore your options at a young age it opens the opportunity to a variety of things instead of one subject.”
Many parents also want guidance counselors to help students better navigate the classes and expectations they need to achieve in order to get into AP classes and their desired college.
It was also suggested high school seniors be given the option to take part in internships during their last semester, that scholarships be made available for students to travel abroad and students be encouraged to volunteer in leadership programs and organizations within the community.
Parents and students agreed that foreign language classes should be offered at an earlier age, with Board of Education Trustee, John Cody, suggesting expanding the amount of languages learned within the school system, stating the business world requires you to know more languages than what’s currently being offered.
English teacher Angelica Mendes agreed that learning different languages helps build a stronger vocabulary and teaching kids at a younger age would benefit them most.
While some students yearn for more sessions in the computer lab, other students don’t want to be dependent on computers and calculators hoping to be more aware of what they are learning.
“People are so attached to electronics, so we need more group activities,” Vanessa Andrade, a fourth grader at Matthew Paterson, said. “Face-to-face is the best way to communicate.”