By Eric Erickson
Seminar program and clubs
Generations of high school students have experienced “homeroom” or a variation of it. Beyond distributing school information or materials, efforts to support students in “advisory” became the norm at Como.
A shift last year rebranding advisory to “seminar” produced mixed results as a pass/no pass grade was attached to student effort in the daily 35-minute seminar time after lunch periods.
Recognizing areas for improvement after the inaugural year of seminar at Como, veteran teacher Allison Hartzell organized seminar programming and opportunities across the school.
A key element of Hartzell’s initiative is a focus on student leadership. She created Como Council as an elective class open to juniors and seniors.
“The students become leaders in our school and do a variety of activities including going into seminars,” Hartzell explained. “They lead activities and circles (to facilitate conversation and relationship building) in seminar on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”
Another huge undertaking of Hartzell’s initiative has been the formation of clubs that meet on Wednesdays during seminar. Teachers offer club activities that students can choose to join. Some of the 17 clubs currently operating include Anime, Gamers Club, Knitting, Karen/Karenni Club and the Walking Club.
There are also clubs built on academic support such as AP Humanities and Math. The academic support offered during seminar time includes Mondays and Fridays when students can check in with their teachers for assistance and make-up work.
The federally funded Get Ready program offered at Como continues its mission of preparing students for education and career advancement after high school.
Supports include individual college and career advising, workshops and college campus visits.
For those who have never been on a college campus, visiting and picturing oneself as a student there is motivating. This fall, Get Ready hosted trips to the University of Minnesota Rochester, St. Paul College for its manufacturer’s tour and the National College Fair.
AP Government students fundraising for D.C. trip
Como seniors studying AP Government are preparing for a week of study in the Close Up Washington D.C. program.
Twenty-nine students are actively fundraising for a trip to the nation’s capital in early March. Beyond working part-time jobs, participating students bagged groceries for customers at the Larpenteur Avenue Cub Foods on Nov. 18 and will repeat that effort on Dec. 16.
Eric Erickson teaches social studies at Como Park Senior High School and is a Bugle freelance writer.
Photo credit: Como students touring the University of Minnesota Rochester as part of a Get Ready campus visit. Photo by Mai Chue Moua.