Jefferson-Morgan School District
The halls and rooms of Jefferson-Morgan Junior Senior High School are almost unrecognizable to someone who attended there longer than five years ago. The lockers and restrooms are no longer seafoam green; the gymnasium lights no longer radiate an orange hue; and the classrooms look a lot different than one might remember. The gym is equipped with new, white overhead lighting; the restrooms are freshly renovated and incorporate the school colors; and when you venture down the breezeway, you’re greeted by orange and black paint stripes above vibrant orange lockers on bright white walls. State of the art equipment like 3D printers and vinyl cutters inside the classrooms, stylish furniture in the library, and contemporary seating in the cafeteria now give you the feeling that you’re studying in a university hall and enjoying your meals in a campus café.
The cosmetic renovations aren’t the only upgrade that JM has undergone. The coursework has gotten quite the facelift, too. New courses and clubs with objectives of instilling in students the importance of community involvement, and preparation for their lives after graduation are now at the core of the curriculum. “College and Career Exploration” allows Juniors and Seniors to explore their interests and options regarding colleges and careers. 4-6 schools are chosen to visit either in person or virtually, depending on distance. Given that every student who has taken the course so far has earned acceptance into multiple schools, and most have been awarded scholarships, the class has proven to be a great experience and success. Along those same lines, the new high school Gifted and Talented Education program, or GATE, also offers guidance when it comes to life post-graduation. This group of highly able, and enthusiastic learners are acknowledged and challenged through unique teachings and can participate in activities such as educational fieldtrips and job shadowing that coincide with the lessons. The goal is to keep the students progressing through the curriculum while further developing their education.
JM students have become familiar faces to those in the surrounding area because a few specific classes have found ways to get the kids active in improving their school as well as their hometowns. “Marketing Internship” encourages hands-on insight with local businesses and organizations, like the foodbank, where they recently assisted in fundraising for a much-needed refrigerated truck. “Entrepreneurship: Owning Your Future” teaches students about starting and operating your own business. Experience is gained through running every aspect of the school coffee shop, “Jefferson Javas.” Their final project is to present to a “Shark Tank” (local business owners and school administration) a business idea that they’ve planned and created, that they feel would succeed in the Jefferson area. Lastly, the “Rockets Launching Leadership” class bridge the school and community together with coursework and projects that exist to enhance the school and cultivate JM pride. Proof of their hard work and dedication to a cause is on display in Mather, PA. After the Rocket family experienced a devastating loss, the issues of mental health and gun safety were brought to the forefront of the public and student body. The class decided to spearhead a multi-faceted project consisting of increasing mental health awareness, advocating for gun locks, and providing the community with a space where people can go to reflect, release their troubles, open their hearts and minds, and depart after experiencing a sense of healing. With the help of teachers, administration, elected officials, and local businesses, the Serenity Space was born and dedicated on November 16, 2022.
And the high school students aren’t the only ones experiencing welcome changes; the elementary school has gotten its share of updates and upgrades, too. In November, the local newspaper featured a story on the new virtual reality system, Floreo, that they are using in the classroom, which gives children with autism valuable practice in handling social scenarios and different types of interactions. Virtual activities like pointing out specific animals at the zoo, or having an impromptu conversation with a classmate have already proven to be hugely beneficial in the learning process. Then, if you visit the gymnasium, you’ll be greeted by the Lu; a state-of-the-art interactive audiovisual projection system with motion detection, that is used to engage students physically, intellectually, and socially-emotionally. Children are immersed in curriculum-based activities that get them moving, jumping, and running… and they don’t even realize they’re getting exercise while learning. It’s an unbelievable tool to see in action.
At the end of the day, it’s evident that Jefferson-Morgan is working tirelessly to provide as many resources and opportunities as possible for their students. The work they are doing within the district is invaluable to both the students and the community. For these Rockets, the future is bright.
*Special thanks to Jefferson-Morgan School District Superintendent Mr. Brandon Robinson, MS/HS Principal Mr. Wesley Loring, Assistant Principal Mr. Michael Hildreth, and Elementary Principal Mr. Samuel Silbaugh for the tour of the school and for allowing IU1 to showcase the school district.