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Request for student help with Providence ‘hero list’ runs into trouble

February 22nd, 2013 Posted in Opinion

By Paul Christiansen

PROVIDENCE— Dissonance was evident at the Providence Historic Preservation Commission’s meeting Tuesday. Kathleen Alder, a representative for Providence Pioneer Heritage Inc., spoke to commission members about her organization’s sponsorship and activity plans for the annual city-wide Spring Creek Festival to be held April 19 – 20.

“We’re going to celebrate on Friday night at the elementary school to honor some of our Providence heroes and I would like this commission to help us with a list of names,” Alder said. “We’ve asked the kids in the elementary schools, the junior high and the high school to help us put together some essays about Providence heroes. But I think if we gave them some names that would be very helpful.”

Commissioner Kaye Lyn Harris, a teacher at Mountain Crest High School, said this was the first time she had heard of the proposal to alter the set curriculum of the schools and was troubled by its timing.

“Has this been cleared?” Harris asked. “I don’t think the high school people have heard about it. To bring in something that’s not part of the regular curriculum during the second half of the school year can often be difficult. At this time there’s always end-of-level testing at the schools.”

Harris said the plan didn’t seem a good fit for high school students but would possibly be better suited for the elementary and middle schools.

Alder said she assumed all the schools had been contacted and made aware of the project but admitted another representative for PPHI had been assigned the task.

Commission chairman Karl Seethaler asked if this was something students could be doing on their own time rather than part of an assigned curriculum.

Alder said he was confident that making the essay a writing assignment would help ensure participation from younger Providence citizens. “The language arts teachers will be the ones giving the assignment,” Alder said. “The kids will have to look online to find information wherever they can about Providence heroes – who they were, what their background was, why they were heroes and why we should honor them. That’s basically what we’re going to ask.”

Commissioner Howard Christenson also voiced concern over the matter. “The curriculum in the school is timed right down to the minute of what they have to teach,” Christenson said. “That’s law in the state of Utah. There’s not much room for sticking other things in there.”

Seethaler said there are three historical books available through the city offices. He felt constructing a list of heroes for the students might be frivolous. “I think the books are the best source,” Seethaler said. “I think they could almost choose their own heroes by going through the books but I guess we can make recommendations.”

The commissioners agreed to construct the list of hero suggestions but advised Alder to make sure the plan was approved through the schools before continuing preparations.


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