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'Survivor' class aims to help students with soft skills

NRHS students Hunter Moody, Abrianna Utgaard, Maggie Dornbush, Payton Casey, and Emily Boucher are part of this year's Survivor course, which looks to help students prepare for life after high school, including ironing and car maintenance. Photo courtesy of the New Richmond High School1 / 3
NRHS Survivor students took part in an etiquette/networking lunch at Ready Randy's on Thursday, April 26. Pictured are (clockwise) Shayla Vanwey (plaid shirt), Melaine Trout, Seirra Gabrielson, Lorena Fox, Sheri Soderquist, Andrea Fredrickson, McKayla Rey, Marissa Viebrock and Treanna Gilbertson. Photo courtesy of the New Richmond High School2 / 3
NRHS Survivor students Andrea Fredrickson (left) and McKayla Rey are pictured practicing their sewing during class. Photo courtesy of the New Richmond High School3 / 3

Surviving high school is one thing. Surviving the real world is another. That is why the New Richmond School District created one of its newest classes, "Survivor."

"In recent years there have been many news stories about young people and their inability to deal with adult situations. Most people think that this type of training is taking place in the home, but for some students it is not," said Family Consumer Science Education teacher Laura Feyma. "Some students have received some training and are looking for a refresher before they head out to live on their own."

Survivor's basic concept is teaching students how to be a successful adult. The course is offered to 10th-12th graders, with preference given to 11th and 12th graders. According to Feyma, the class would ideally be taken during a student's senior year.

"This course is for anyone who wants to live a successful life on their own after high school. The class is tailored to helping students be successful in all areas of their life from obtaining and keeping a job, communicating within relationships, staying physically and emotionally healthy, avoiding stress, saving money, etc," Feyma said. "The class has been really fun to teach and we have tried to make it as hands on and relevant as possible."

Feyma, along with fellow FCSE Heather Boe, came up with the idea for the course while updating their curriculum and course offerings in order to make them more relevant to students and community needs. Once they put together a course proposal, Feyma surveyed 60 students and 90 percent felt it would be beneficial for them to take a class like Survivor.

"It is important in our district that every student learn to his or her potential. So for every student to meet their potential we need to provide them with opportunities to practice life skills that will make them successful in all areas of their life," Feyma said.

During the class, students covered topics such as:

• Obtaining a job — resume writing and interviewing

• Buying an apartment — apartment search, signing a lease, furnishing on a budget

• Roommate conflict resolution

• Avoiding the freshman 15 — healthy eating, meal prep, grocery budgeting

• Stress and time management

• Sexually transmitted infections, sexual assault, sexual harassment, consent

• Drug and alcohol awareness

• Mental health awareness

• Basic auto maintenance

• Dining etiquette and networking

• Laundry care — ironing, removing stains, mending, sorting clothes, sewing on a button

• Personal responsibility and leadership

"We have tried to have the community take an active role in the class. Within the first few weeks we had 11 community members come in to conduct mock interviews with our students. For some students this was the first time they have participated in a 'real' interview," Feyma said. "Many students were thankful for the opportunity as they were currently in the process of interviewing for summer employment."

Per student request, Detective Carlos de la Cruz and Lt. Veronica Koehler gave presentations on drug use and life consequences, as well as human trafficking and sexual assault. School counselors talked about mental health awareness, while Bernard's Northtown employees discussed car maintenance and buying a car.

Survivor is a semester-long course offered only in the spring. This year three sections of approximately 75 total students took the class.

"With a course like this sometimes it is hard to see if students are retaining the information until they actually live out the situation. We have often said to the students 'It is my job to present the information, it is up to you to take the knowledge and use it in your life,'" Feyma said. "I have recently had many students and parents discuss with me how they are applying for a job or interviewing. I have had a few students ask me additional information about apartment rentals. A few days after our dining etiquette unit NRHS had prom. Many students discussed how they had to use their new skills for this event."

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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