Danville High School students gained a different learning experience this week as the school held its yearly intercession.
“Our goal is to develop a student’s ability to take more responsibility for their learning,” according to the Danville High School website. That is done during intercession week by giving students “voice and choice in their learning.”
For some students, intercession offered the opportunity to glimpse into the world of law enforcement, as they were able to partake in a modified citizens academy through Danville Police Department.
“It’s a good opportunity to get the youth of our community associated with law enforcement and to interact in a positive atmosphere,” Police Chief Tony Gray said. “The youth are a big part of our community.”
The five students included in the week-long class conduct mock building searches, participate in traffic stops and ride-alongs with officers, and learn about forensic-type investigations.
Capt. Jim Monroe said students were also to see the side of police work that may not be as much fun, including paperwork and court hearings.
Bringing in the students helps dispel some of the “misconceptions” about police officers that are created from television and movies, Chief Gray explained.
“Nowadays there’s a lot of misconceptions about police work,” he said. “What you see on TV is not what we do. We do at times, but a large part of what we do is actually paperwork. This breaks down those misconceptions.”
At the end of the week, students will participate in a graduation ceremony at the police station.
For the students, it truly has been a learning experience.
“The experience has been good. It’s really been eye-opening,” said junior Thorn Koci. He explained that they had visited the Boyle County Detention Center. “It makes you want to make good decisions.”
Sophomore Chris Davis thought he knew a great deal about what goes into being a police officer because his father is one; however, he found out just how much he didn’t know about the field.
“I’ve learned more that I didn’t know,” Davis said.
Some students said they had long been interested in going into law enforcement, and their participation in the week-long session was a good start.
“It’s a good and fun experience,” Omar Ayala, a freshman, said. “This is what I want to be when I grow up.”
Sophomore Ben Moler participated in an on-campus version of the sessions that were conducted during last year’s intercession at the high school, which included only ride-alongs.
“It’s awesome,” Moler said, crediting the “in-depth learning” as being beneficial to the experience. “It’s making me excited to be an officer.”
Hearing phrases like that are reason for conducting the academy, according to Gray.
“This could be the beginning of an interest in law enforcement. They could say, ‘hey, six or seven years ago, I went through the intercession, I went through Leadership Boyle, and that had an effect on me becoming a police officer in my community,’” he said.
Monroe said the academy also could forge a connection with those students who are interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement. It would also enable him to further encourage them as they continue on in their studies.
“Some of them do have the desire to come back and be in law enforcement,” Monroe said. Keeping in contact with these students, he explained, could help them “make sure they don’t make mistakes.”
Monroe said the department has summer programs for college students and the citizens academy for adults who just want to become more knowledgable about the police department.
Eventually, the department would like to have a program to include more students; however, for now, they were only able to take about five or six students at a time.
Experiencing new things and giving students the opportunity in “driving their own learning experience” is the purpose of the intercession week at Danville High School. Some of the options available to students include job shadowing, college readiness classes and activities and life skills classes.
Some participate in art-centered programs, such as Art Commissions, in which they found individuals to commission artwork to be created within the week.
Some students participate in the Southern BBQ class, where they create their own sauces and grill their barbecue. There are courses that draw on the expertise of local businesses and career individuals, including the cake course that features decorating lessons from local bakery owners.
Money management, first aid and CPR, teaching and ACT prep, along with other similarly practical choices, are available.
There’s even a class on the famous caped crusader, Batman, analyzing him as an archetype in reference to contemporary literature. Other literature and creative writing courses also are offered.
Intersession continues until Friday at Danville High School. Regular classes resume on Monday.