When the Life Skills Special Studies group gathered together in Ms. Sullivan’s room on Monday morning, we had no idea what an amazing experience the next week would turn out to be. We began our adventure with a course in etiquette from Mrs. Anne Hill, whom a few of us had had as a teacher for Cotillion. We left with higher chins, straighter backs, and improved manners. For example, we now know to always put a name tag on the right side of our bodies, and to rest our wrists on the table where they will be visible while eating. That afternoon, we gathered in the High school for a baking session where we learned how to use a mixer correctly while making a delicious fruit tart. We left that day with not only a delicious treat, but also the correct way to eat it in both American and European style dining.
On Tuesday and Wednesday we met at the Spartanburg Martial Arts Center for our self-defense course. Everyone in the group greatly enjoyed themselves there. The instructors created an environment where all of us could both learn and enjoy ourselves, oftentimes filling their lessons with witty humor and impressive demonstrations.
While we hope there will never be a situation where we will have to use these skills, learning them turned out to be an exciting and interesting experience for all of us. We gained quite a few bruises, but we also learned how to escape a choke hold, how to throw a punch, and how to kick an attacker in the groin.
On Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon Mrs. Cooksey and Mrs. Burtnett taught us how to knit. Although we ended up with slightly tangled balls of yarn, there was an overall sense of accomplishment when all of us successfully knitted a full row of stitches. We also painted trays that could be used as an organizer for anything from coffee tables to bedside tables. By the end of the two days each one of us had a nice painted tray and a dishcloth that we had knitted ourselves.
On Thursday we took the Red Cross CPR/first aid/AED training course. We learned that performing CPR on dummy mannequins, for even only a few minutes, is more difficult and tiring than it looks. It was a long day, but we learned how to perform CPR and the Heimlich maneuver on adults and children and how to bandage a wound. We are all now CPR certified for two years.
On Friday we headed out to R.D. Anderson Applied Technology Center for the ropes and automotive courses. In the morning we were lead through many different ropes courses by students not much older than us. To be completed, some of the partner courses not only required strength, but also trust in your partner to not let you fall. We learned that the most important thing in group challenges is communication, not only in ropes courses but also in life too. In the automotive course we learned about the inner workings of a car engine and what to do when your car won’t start.
By the end of Special Studies week, we had gained a new collection of skills, skills that we most likely would not have had access to had we not chosen this Special Studies. Not only was this week an amazing learning experience for everyone, it allowed the eleven students, and two teachers, to bond together even though we didn’t know each other all that well at the beginning of the week. We feel much more prepared for the “real world” from our week with Ms. Snyder and Ms. Sullivan.