student lily morris with fishWith their life jackets securely fastened and tackle boxes in tow, 10 giggling fifth-grade girls from Elm Creek Elementary traveled to Weaver Lake for their first (official) fishing adventure on June 4.

After more than a month of after-school learning in the Elm Creek Fishing Club, students were eager to spend an afternoon on the water. Dan Baker, fourth-grade teacher at Elm Creek, led the club again this year after a successful debut last year. The primary focus? To expose students to the sport who may not have the opportunity to fish otherwise.

“I have a passion for fishing and I want to see the sport grow,” he said. “Through the club, we’ve tried to find a way to target groups of people who are historically underrepresented in fishing. Last year, we worked with boys of color in fourth- and fifth-grade; this year, we shifted our focus to fifth-grade girls and had 10 students apply.”

Club members met four times after school to learn about water safety, boat safety, fishing equipment and species of fish. To help them excel on the water, they practiced casting, tying fishing knots, and explored the contents of their tackle boxes.

This year, Baker asked for donations to help fund the Elm Creek Fishing Club via a DonorsChoose.org site; he also enlisted the support of several community partners. Tuned Up Custom Rods donated the fishing poles; Clam Outdoors provided the reels, fishing line and hats for each girl; and Larry Hanson, a local professional fishing guide, lent his expertise and boat for the Weaver Lake excursion.

“There’s been a ton of enthusiasm from the kids,” Baker added. “When we reviewed the girls’ applications earlier this year, some students commented on how they used to fish, how their grandpa would take them out fishing, or how they missed fishing. It’s been fun to see the girls get excited about fishing and have fun with it.”

PHOTO: Lily Morris, Elm Creek Elementary fifth-grader, proudly displays a largemouth bass she caught during an excursion with the Elm Creek Fishing Club at Weaver Lake on June 4. 

RELATED: Elm Creek Elementary girls learn how to fish (CCX News)

Carver Wessel

Through a District 279 Foundation grant, Park Center Senior High teacher Wendy Wessel invited See More Perspective, a local artist and poet from TruArt Speaks, to speak to her classes. See More taught more than 60 Park Center Senior High students about how to use figurative language to create an “ode” poem. Through that poem, students had the opportunity to share their unique perspectives and feelings. The ode poem is designed to be a passionate, emotional poem spoken directly to a person, place or thing.

By learning from a professional spoken word artist, students had the opportunity to hone in on their crafts of rapping, writing poetry and presenting their artwork to others. Students practiced their poetry and presented a poem to their class in a Spoken Word Open Mic event on May 29.

One student read a line from his ode to basketball. Music and its transformative healing powers was the focus of another student’s ode. Another student stood in front of the class to read a few lines from her ode to her grandfather who she said knows her better than anyone else.

See More’s message to the students was to keep writing and share their voice with others. By writing unique metaphors and similes, writers can make powerful connections and help people see the world in a new way.

Photo: With a big smile on her face, Janae Carver shared her ode to the subject of her poem, her favorite teacher, Wendy Wessel.