Did you ever wonder when you’d use the skills you learned in high school geometry?

At Conant High School in Jaffrey, students are already putting their math skills — and a few others — to the test. This year, students in the school’s compass program, intensive learning center and building trades class designed and worked on building two greenhouses on the school grounds.

The compass program, which just finished its first year, focuses on competency-based, personalized learning for students who may not always excel in traditional classroom settings.

There were eight students in the program this year, according to teacher Kathy Pendergast, and they came up with the idea to build the structures themselves.

“Our plants weren’t doing as well in our classroom, and the kids said, ‘Let’s build one of these,’ ” she said. “And we turned it into a math, English, economics-type project where they had to come up with the cost of the lumber, calculate the entire cost for the project, and then calculate surface area, area, perimeter; the building skills necessary with it.”

The students compared price estimates for several different building supply outlets, Pendergast said, and then wrote a letter asking for donations to the project.

They submitted the letter to Faith Jarest at the school’s intensive learning center, which was able to donate some funding from its plant sale program, and reached out to Chris Moore’s building trades class for help during the construction phase of the project.

Conant’s intensive learning center provides small group instruction focused on the skills needed for independent living.

In all, about 20 students from the compass program, the intensive learning center and the building trades class teamed up to construct the greenhouses over the past month, according to Pendergast.

The first of the two 4-by-8-foot greenhouses was completed last week, while the second is set to be finished at the beginning of next school year. They’re also interested in outfitting the sheds with solar panels so they can be used year-round, Pendergast said. Next year, the program hopes to reach out to local solar energy companies to partner on a learning project, and potentially even on future internships and apprenticeships.

This is the second large project the compass program has completed in its first year, according to Pendergast. The students also created the Compass Closet, a free “thrift shop” where students can pick out donated clothing at no charge.

Next year, students in the compass program will continue to come up with ideas for hands-on and “minds-on” learning projects, as Pendergast calls them.

Building the greenhouses this year helped them apply their skills in a way that students don’t always get the chance to.

“I think they’re real life skills and they’re real world skills for anyone involved. It also brings math alive. ‘When am I ever going need to calculate surface area?’ is something that we’ll hear when they’re in geometry,” Pendergast said.

“Well, if you have to build a greenhouse, if you’re building a shed, you’ll need it.”

At its most recent meeting on June 12, the Keene Board of Education presented the eighth annual Exceptional Teacher Awards. Ten teachers from the Keene School District were honored at the meeting for their innovative teaching techniques, leadership skills and support of students.

This year’s honorees were chosen from more than 100 nominations submitted by parents, colleagues and students. Each teacher will receive $500 as part of the award.

The honored teachers are Hannah Blair of Fuller Elementary School, Melanie Bradford of Symonds Elementary School, Amy Chapman of Keene High School, Bill Derry of Keene High School, Sophie Lafleur of Jonathan Daniels Preschool, Lisa McGratty of Franklin Elementary School, Mark Miller of Keene Middle School, Jon Perry of Keene Community Education, Scott Rogers of Keene High School, and Hannah Trombly of Wheelock Elementary School.

“We have exceptional teachers in all of our schools that go the extra mile for students,” said Superintendent Robert H. Malay in a news release. “This year’s recipients are no exception to that as they continually demonstrate how important teachers are for our students.”

Serena Beard, a 2018 graduate of Hinsdale High School, was one of 12 New Hampshire students to receive a Dunkin’ Donuts scholarship. The $2,500 scholarship, awarded on behalf of local Dunkin’ Donuts owners, will go toward Beard’s education studying marketing at Colby-Sawyer College.

The annual scholarship program is in its 23rd year and recognizes students who are leaders in their communities. Since 1995, more than half a million dollars in scholarships has been awarded to New Hampshire students.

Each student at James Faulkner Elementary School in Stoddard received a free book at the end of this school year as part of N.H. School Administrative Unit 24’s efforts to encourage summer reading.

Unit 24 decided to provide the books after N.H. Commissioner of Education Frank L. Edelblut encouraged superintendents to foster students’ summer reading at the elementary level.

“With that in mind, we thought that there wasn’t a better way to encourage reading for our students than to start their summer with a great, brand-new book of their own,” said Superintendent Lorraine Tacconi-Moore. “We encourage all of our students to be lifelong learners and hope this gift of a book helps them along on that journey.”

Free books were also given to students in Unit 24’s other schools, including Henniker Community School, and Center Woods Elementary and Center Woods Upper Elementary schools, both in Weare. Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord provided discounts for the books and delivered them to the schools.

As students and teachers head off for their much-anticipated summer vacations, this column will take a hiatus until classes resume in the fall. Until then, enjoy the sun — see you soon!

Education reporter Meg McIntyre can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or mmcintyre@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @MMcIntyreKS.

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