By: Jeremy Los
School was in session Saturday morning at Granite Hills High School, as over 300 middle school students and around 100 Granite Hills students took part in S.T.I.N.G. (Student Teachers Igniting The Next Generation), where classes were created and instructed by the participating Granite Hills juniors and seniors.
The brainchild of Granite Hills senior, Andy Keller- who modeled the event after the SPLASH programs at MIT, Stanford, and University of Chicago (where college students teach high school students), S.T.I.N.G. aimed to “instill a love of learning for a lifetime.”
“I have noticed that incoming middle school students are not interested in learning,” said Keller. “We wanted the students to become comfortable with the high school environment and get them interested in learning through subjects that they are interested in.”
S.T.I.N.G. was a pilot program for the company Learning Unlimited, which runs the college based SPLASH programs. The event marked the first time nationally that this type of program had been implemented at the high school level.
The initial idea for the event came to Keller a year ago after he attended the SPLASH program at MIT. Planning for the event began last November, with the lack of time being the biggest obstacle for organizers to clear. The event found a supporter in Grossmont Union High School District Superintendent Ralf Swenson; while many were skeptical at first others began to fall in love with the idea.
Seven core students were taken to a SPLASH event at Stanford University to get a feel of what the program is and what it provides. They took what they learned at the event and began molding it to the curriculum.
Classes offered were not your prototypical science or English classes, classes were aimed at making the learning experience enjoyable for the middle school students, and the teachers for that matter.
“We wanted the teachers to teach something they are passionate about and implement high school curriculum into it,” said Keller.
A class like “Zombie defense,” looked to make anatomy and critical thinking a bit more enjoyable for those brave enough to attend the class; while “Chemistry of Ice Cream,” brought the worlds of ice cream and chemistry together
The event itself was a project for the International Baccalaureate program at Granite Hills, an internationally recognized program that allows students to earn special IB diplomas. The program provided the foundation and basis for creating S.T.I.N.G. and the program is somewhat like the advanced placement program.
“All these kids volunteered to be here,” said International Baccalaureate advisor Matthew Davis. “They all gave up their Saturday to come, it’s amazing.”
The attendance number for the event exceeded the expectations of organizers, and according to Keller the numbers were close to that of the SPLASH events.
As for the future of the event, discussions were held following the event about what the future holds. Keller and others are off to college next year, leaving it up to underclassman to keep the ball rolling.
“I will definitely help and mentor future coordinators,” said Keller. “But, I want to keep it run by students for students.”