Glass Half Full: Local youth encouraged to care about our issues | SierraSun.com

Glass Half Full: Local youth encouraged to care about our issues

Ruth Glass
Glass Half Full

Our unofficial motto at Lake Tahoe School is "Figure it out!," something we start expecting our students to do in PreSchool at an appropriate level.

By eighth grade, the bar is set pretty high. Among other things, we ask our students to figure out something worthy of their time and attention for a full year. Every eighth-grader is required to select a topic for what we call Exhibition.

With minimal help from a mentor, every student determines an Essential Question then goes about figuring out the answer through months of research, interviews, discussion, and a project that includes a term paper, a video/power point presentation, and an oral defense.

The demands require considerable thought and work. Every spring we are amazed by how much our students have learned — and how much we have learned from them.

A key part of Lake Tahoe School philosophy is that we care about what our students learn, how they learn, and what they do with their learning. Reports from LTS graduates often indicate that they have extended their Exhibition interests well past the reaches of Incline Village. Of course, that is our hope.

This year's Essential Questions include:

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Is ethanol a viable alternative to oil?

Are young athletes better off playing multiple sports or concentrating on just one sport?

What is the best way to deal with the black bear problem in the Tahoe area?

What are the best ways of diagnosing Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia?

Should people take so many medications or rely more on natural cures?

Are first impressions impacted by physical impressions?

Does modern technology help preserve ancient cultures around the world?

We also talk to our students about the importance of inquiry, about community awareness and involvement, and about taking a stand for things they think are important. We want them to learn how to present their positions respectfully and thoughtfully.

We don't ask that they agree with us – or that we agree with them. We want the younger generation to care about issues, to ask difficult questions, and to find their own voices. We are proud of them when they find the confidence to express their opinions and grow in the process.

Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at http://www.laketahoeschool.org.