Fourth grade student Ashlyn Hammel is spending her QuEST time right now researching the fashions of 1890. “I thought about a lot of different things that I was interested in learning about and decided that I wanted to know more about what they wore in the 1890s,” said Ashlyn. “I have been sketching the outfits and learning about them, but it has been kind of hard finding a lot of answers to my questions.” MARLENE DESCHLER/SPRING GROVE HERALD<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->
Fourth grade student Ashlyn Hammel is spending her QuEST time right now researching the fashions of 1890. “I thought about a lot of different things that I was interested in learning about and decided that I wanted to know more about what they wore in the 1890s,” said Ashlyn. “I have been sketching the outfits and learning about them, but it has been kind of hard finding a lot of answers to my questions.” MARLENE DESCHLER/SPRING GROVE HERALD

A pilot program has begun this school year at Spring Grove Public School - QuEST (Quality Enrichment of Student Talents). This program is to help reach the needs of the most able learners at the school.

"There are already programs in place for students who need extra help to succeed and QuEST is a way to help high-ability students reach their potential," explained Gifted and Talented teacher and QuEST instructor, Jackie Parker. "These students often grasp what is taught in regular education very quickly and need little or no repetition to master concepts. They desire more challenging and diverse content. Being given time and access to this type of content or for independent study helps to meet the needs of these students."

First through third grade students go to QuEST for the Junior Great Books program and leave their classroom during Language Arts. Junior Great Books is an interpretive discussion program with rich literature content, focusing on higher level thinking skills. They meet as small groups and discuss the assigned stories they have read before coming to QuEST.

Middle Age students (fourth through sixth grades) are in their classroom for the first half of their math class and then they go to QuEST for the last half of the class. In order to participate in QuEST, they must have passed a pre-test on their current math unit with a score of 85% or higher. They have to meet this qualification with each unit in order to continue with QuEST.

High school students (seventh through twelfth grades) are eligible to be a part of QuEST when the math teacher determines that the student has shown mastery of content for the current math unit.

During QuEST time, fourth through twelfth grade students are working on independent projects of a wide variety. To decide what to focus their project on, the students filled out an interest survey to help them narrow their focus. Once they decided on a topic, they filled out a topic planner to assist them in thinking more thoroughly about their topic and what they would like to learn and discover about it.

Students also have the opportunity to work on skills through the Khan Academy online. This is a free website that anyone can use to improve on their skills or learn new skills in a wide variety of topics including math, science, economics and finance, humanities, and computer programming. The site challenges students as they work through problems, tells them if they got it right or wrong, and helps them work on problem areas.

Examples of what QuEST students have been working on include Cosmology and Astronomy; creative writing; reports on Africa, Greek Gods, and the Essence of Human Existence; and a model of DNA. A more extensive project on the process of flipping a house using real-life examples and numbers was also completed by a student. Two high school students have also been getting website experience with one updating the school website and one working on expanding the website for the Speech/ Language Skills department.

Parker works with QuEST students throughout the day, but also oversees high school students that are working on distance learning classes online or on a PSEO (post-secondary education opportunity) class, or internship class.

"I really enjoy my job and working with the students," added Parker. "I've enjoyed helping implement this new program at school."