I have a son and daughter that attend Northwoods Community Secondary School (NCSS). This is a charter school for sixth through 12th graders within the Rhinelander District. The school uses a project-based approach rather than traditional methods. My kids spend their days developing their own projects, collaborating with classmates and attending seminars on special topics. They do all this under the guidance of their advisors and they meet academic requirements set by Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
My eighth grader has produced presentations about such diverse topics as wolves in Wisconsin and the health risks of energy drinks. She developed a coloring book describing the five scientific kingdoms and co-authored a play about Greek mythology. In some ways, graduates from NCSS are even more prepared to enter college or the workforce because they have honed their interpersonal skills and they know how to independently research answers to a problem.
The school also emphasizes technology. In his first year, my grade son is using PowerPoint, Cloud-based programs and innovative Smartboard techniques in his presentations. Despite all the exposure to new technology, he still loves to read paper-bound books.
The community is an integral part of the NCSS experience. The students each perform 25 hours of community service per year. They volunteer at the food pantry, shovel snow and rake leaves. They also involve community members in their project research, including business and government leaders, and staff from the DNR and Forest Service.
Some parents from out of our district are choosing to send their children to NCSS because of this excellence. I also know parents who chose NCSS over homeschooling. Retaining these students generates funding for the district.
NCSS provides a learning environment like none other in the area. Project-based learning is not the best fit for all students, but neither is traditional text book learning. Other school districts around the Midwest have even modeled their project-based programs on NCSS. Quality charter-school options like NCSS help distinguish Rhinelander as a place where different learning styles are accommodated.
Unfortunately, the elementary and secondary charter schools are among the cuts proposed unless a referendum is passed. A source of revenue, a means of educating different types of learners and a proud element of our district’s brand will be lost.
If the referendum fails to pass, this treasured school will close. Please vote YES on Feb. 19.
Katie Kubisiak, Newbold