Community Connections/Crescent Valley High School
Images of Students or their Work (typical).
Learning that had real consequences
had the greatest impact on students,
such as building competition skateboard ramps.
Authentic experiences
Community Connections emphasizes experiential learning that is relevant to students' personal needs and interests. Events and experiences in the community are the context for learning. For example, in the summer of 2000 (the first year of the program) during the first week of the program, students and staff produced poetry and photography for the county fair. With deadlines to meet, students had to stay focused and organized to have their submissions ready on time. Clemens Stark, an Oregon poet, led a workshop that kicked off students' poetry writing. This was also the beginning of the process of making students actively aware of the habits of mind (such as persistence, checking for accuracy, questioning, and problem-posing). Students took digital and black and white photographs related to their poetry. Then they superimposed their poems on to the photographs. This, like all of the projects in Community Connections, gave students the opportunity to develop and apply real-world skills by assuming adult responsibilities. This can sometimes be a risk when dealing with young people with behavioral issues. But all of the students in Community Connections rose to the occasion.

Another important experiential piece of Community Connections is to allow students to learn to trust one another in a variety of non-threatening settings. Two-thirds of program time is spent outside of the classroom. Students do Tai Chi every morning, forcing them to develop a nonverbal focus by following nonverbal cues. They played ultimate Frisbee in the quad and put on a play in the cafeteria. The idea was to explore new opportunities and settings for self-expression and teamwork.

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Project Based Learning