Congratulations to Van Jr./Sr. High School students for their test score improvements. Van High School now ranks #3 in the state for test scores, and the Jr. High school jumped a whopping 42 places in state-wide test scores from the previous year! Both are amazing achievements and our Explore & Soar program is proud to be a part of the success, providing tutoring, homework assistance and helping to build good study habits, self-confidence and positive attitudes! 

Voices of the Mountain a Great Success!
Click here to learn more about this great project and community response.


Challenge America – Dam Building
At Van Junior High School, sculptor P. Joseph Mullins discussed his sculptural process and demonstrated with some of the materials he uses, such as clay. Students were given time for free exploration of materials like clay, sand, soil and rock. Joe then discussed how these sculptural materials have been used by different cultures throughout the ages. Engineer Melissa Thompson then began a discussion of dams and how dams have been used for centuries to help solve problems such as flooding and irrigation. Students tested the materials they used in the previous session as to their water permeability. They predicted results, then experimented, and based on these experiments students worked in teams to build dams and tested the various materials with a water flow. This made for an extremely exciting finale as students were able to watch as their dams held back water or failed and released a tidal wave!


Etiquette, Respect and More!
Mentor Sara Busse challenged students as they explored etiquette, manners and respect. Not only did students work with table manners, proper greeting techniques and interview etiquette, Sara also worked with students on respecting others and the ever-increasing importance of online etiquette, touching on cyber bullying and how to keep yourself safe when online.


Leadership 101
Students at Van have been working with mentor Lewis Ferguson on a variety of activities focusing on leadership, team building and community service. Through a series of project-based learning challenges, students have also worked on honing their communication skills. The session will finish as students put their skills to the test and oversee a canned food drive for their community.

Mural Project: Getting Creative in the Cafeteria!
Van students took on the challenge given to them by artist mentors Katy Hawkins and Michael Parsley to create a school mural. The mural was conceived, designed and painted by the students as they worked together on a project that not only provided a great team-building experience, but was also a terrific way to beautify their school cafeteria.


Blast Off!
Van students also explored rocketry with NASA-trained Clay Center staffer William Rouse.
 Students began reading the Homer Hickam biography “Rocket Boys” and worked with the design and fabrication of a variety of rockets. Through a series of experiments, trial and error and lots of teamwork, all teams achieved successful launches!


Click here to learn more about Van Junior/Senior High School.
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