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Challenge Day Program to Build Garden Valley’s Future as a Community

Luke Jones, left, was instructor from BSU to offer Design Thinking training to teachers, students, parents and community members. This gave a better understanding of the grant program for GV students. Photo by Janet Juroch

A new community involved program is being started at the Garden Valley School called Challenge Day. This was set up through a grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertsons Family Foundation to specifically help the community utilize the “5th Day” Fridays of a 4-day school week. Through student learning experiences, the “Design Thinking” challenges will ultimately serve community needs.

This is a two and half year grant program that will evolve with the participants which will include students, parents, businesses and professionals. To gain insight into what could be done with the program, students and many community members were asked this question last year, “What do you wish you could learn?” The overwhelming response was metal and woodworking skills. The school shop, which had not been used in over seven years, is being set up to offer welding instruction and certification opportunities to secondary students.

The kick-off program was held at the school where students, teachers and community members were invited to see how “Design Thinking” works as actual class instruction taught by Luke Jones, who heads up the design thinking training program at Boise State University. He also is the Director of Campus Recreation. Luke, along with Keith Hughes from the Challenge Day Learning Committee showed participants how to become accustomed to the open-ended learning experience. Training involved identifying a need, defining how to fill that need, and then building a prototype idea and testing the model to see if that need has been met sufficiently.

Marshmallows, duct tape and spaghetti were the items used to create a prototype model designed to suspend a marshmallow. Photo by Janet Juroch

On Fridays, the Middle School students meet from 10 to noon. High School students meet from noon to 2:00pm. The Shop is open for these model building challenges every Friday. Students receive training in woodworking and welding. High School students will have internship opportunities throughout the community as the program builds. The program helps students work together to discover challenges that are evident within the community and design solutions to meet community needs.

Elementary students will also be able to participate and build lasting skills in problem solving and design thinking as well. They will do the same building prototype challenges offered to the older students. Their programs will be on the first Friday of the month at the GV District Library beginning November 3rd from 10:15am-12:15pm.

Community involvement is critical in helping the students succeed and create the challenges needed to build a better future for everyone.  Lessons in thinking outside the box will encourage students to become entrepreneurs and reach for those ideas that will help with community growth. Ultimately, the goal of the grant is to allow students to become a part of the community and want to stay to be a part of the future growth in Garden Valley. Challenges become opportunities when the right skills are taught. The community is always welcomed to see how the program works on Challenge Days.

Challenge Day is a free program and is open to all Garden Valley students 1st – 12th grade. There will be personal safety equipment such as safety glasses, etc., to purchase once shop instruction starts. These items will be available through the Challenge Day Program. A Code of Conduct agreement must be signed by student and parent/guardian each Friday they attend.

Challenge Day Board of Directors are Scott Kahre, Linda Baker, Kelly and Keith Hughes and Greg Alexander. For more information contact Keith Hughes at 208-340-4837 or Keithh2o@msn.com.  The best way to stay up on current information is to join the email list or check out Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GV5thday/

Written by Janet Juroch