Some wonderful projects and events have been happening at Lake City Secondary School’s Williams Lake Campus (WLSS) including one that is beautifying the town.
In the past year, a project spearheaded by math teacher Caroline Chupa and life skills class teacher for students with special needs Tyler Allison has come to fruition.
Anyone driving down Carson Drive has probably noticed the decorated fence along the Williams Lake Campus.
Community Arts Council of Williams Lake executive member Sharon Hoffman, who instructed Life Skills Unit (LSU) students how to decorate a chain link fence with yarn last summer, started this “yarnbombing” interest.
In the past few months LSU students have been crocheting, knitting and weaving yarn for the fence. One goal for the project was to develop fine motor skills, often an area of difficulty for students with special needs.
Allison saw how yarnbombing the fence would fit well with the math theory of sinusoidal waves in Chupa’s Grade 12 math class.
Two years ago LCSS principal Gregg Gaylord, following up on a province-wide initiative by the Ministry of Education, asked teachers to work together to create a sense of belonging for students and to initiate higher learning both personally and as a school.
Chupa then had the idea of joining her Math 11 and 12 classes with Allison’s Life Skills students with special needs. They reviewed the provincial curriculum for Math 11 and 12 and identified projects that could be developed with both classes working together. They weren’t sure how the students would interact with each other, but maintained expectations that the older students would meet learning objectives.
As anticipated, some LSU students, such as those with autism who are very sensitive to their environments, took a while to adjust to the Grade 12 class. With gradual introductions and support from teachers and education assistants, these students became comfortable with the new experience and participated in the activities.
It also turned out to be an enlightening experience for the older students.
Kiran Khakh, a Grade 12 student, said she wasn’t sure what to expect from the project.
“We weren’t sure about it at first but as we worked with the LSU students we felt that we should be doing this in more schools because it’s a learning experience for LSU students and us too,” Khakh said.
Chupa said LCSS is one of a few schools who have integrated math students with special needs students.
Chupa directed her students to look at real life situations and apply it to math theories such as Venn diagrams, set theory, business math, problem solving for statistics, and trigonometry. Students calculated some sinusoidal wave graphs and, with assistance from LSU students, transferred them onto the Carson Street fence with yarn.
Chupa said she was thrilled and impressed with how her students participated, and accepted the LSU students and their atypical behaviors
After they first joined class activity, some Grade 12 students sought out the LSU students in the school hallway and made a point of talking to them and interacting with them.
Older students learned to understand the students with special needs.
The experience has also had an impact on career decisions: some Grade 12 students are considering different career paths that they may not have thought of before meeting the LSU students. A grade 12 student commented that the experience has “opened our minds and lowered our prejudices .