Sewanhaka schools give life lessons

Andrew Benjamin

The Sewanhaka Central High School District’s family and consumer sciences program aims to educate students in practical life skills, from comparison shopping to balancing a checkbook. 

That’s how Joan Chieffo, Family and Consumer Science coordinator for the Sewanhaka district, explained the program in the district’s five high schools in a presentation she made at the Sewanhaka Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night.  

“The state-mandated course is designed to help middle level students live in a society of constant change,” Chieffo explained. “The goal is to educate early adolescence, to think constructively, make sound decisions solve problems and manage resources.”

She said Family and Consumer Science courses, also known as home economics, are a requirement in grades seven and eight and electives in upper grades. The courses are organized around the four skills of communication, leadership, management, and thinking, with students required to do hands on activities involving group projects, Internet research and basic food preparation.

Chieffo said her favorite activity is charging seventh grade students to manage personal finances on a budget. Each of the students must plan a pizza party, choose the number of attendees, serve pizza and a beverage, and having a party activity while staying within a $150 budget. The party purchases must be made with check from their personal checking account.

“What they are really doing is learning the decision making process, goal setting, budgeting, comparison shopping, and the workings of a checking account,” she said. “Math skills and common core at its very best.”

On the senior grade high school level, a child psychology and development course is offered as an elective. Chieffo said the course provides students with a “broad” introduction“ to child psychology, with subject matter covering child development from conception to school age

Chieffo described an independent life-skills course in the Family and  Consumer Science curriculum as a “college-survival course.” She said the course aims to prepare students for “effective independent living and survival skills” ranging from personal resource management to basic clothing and maintenance repair. 

After outlining the course, Chieffo asked the if anyone present could mend their own pants. Very few hands went up.

“Basic skills we have lost as time goes on,” she said.

Other Family and Consumer Science classes include nutrition and culinary arts classes, which are intended to make students aware of the food they eat and give them practical lessons in cooking for catered affairs and community events.

In other developments:

• Valedictorians and salutatorians were announced for the class of 2013 at all district high schools. 

At New Hyde Park Memorial High School, the valedictorian is Linda Zhang and the salutatorian is Clara Wilson. At Floral Park Memorial High School the valedictorian is Vishnu Tiwari  and the salutatorian is Tim Lazaroff.  At Sewanhanaka High School the valedictorian is Douglas Spring  and Kieran O’Reilly is the salutatorian.

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Andrew Benjamin

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