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Crops in the classroom

March 5, 2009
By Trina Thomas

MARSHALL - Students in a crops, environment and society class at Marshall High School are learning about crops across the country and earning college credit for it.

"This class is through the University of Minnesota," class teacher Paul Lanoue said. "This means that the students taking this class are U of M students. For taking this class they get college along with high school credit.

"They have access to the student library, and get student discounts on games just like students who actually live there do. The students can look up old tests on the Internet that the professor made previous years to use as a study guide but I make up their tests and quizzes."

At the end of the semester the students get a .5 boost on their high school grade for taking a college level class.

While it's a college level class, the class is only worth 500 points total. No extra credit is provided to raise a grade.

That means grades are based on tests and quizzes. CIS has only three tests.

High school classes are typically worth 1,000 to 2,000 points.

"Welcome to college," said Lanoue as he chuckled. "The point of this class is to get students to take a college class here instead of doing PSEO (Post Secondary Enrollment Option).

"It saves the school money and provides students with a more challenging class instead of having to leave the school."

Students have to identify plants, seeds, characteristics of plant families, and the history of agriculture for quizzes and tests. It helps that they get to plant their own crops in the greenhouse in the room next to the CIS classroom, students said.

"I planted a snake and spider plant in another ag class that I've taken. I haven't got the chance to plant anything yet," said Megan Kumerau, a senior at Marshall High School who is taking the class.

"I've planted popcorn seeds and currently have two inches of growth on each of them," said Shane Schiavo, another senior at MHS.

Many students take the class to get a head start on college electives while earning high school credit as well.

"I really wanted to get college credit for this class," Kumerau said.

Students are taking this class not only to earn college credit but to gain more experience with agriculture.

"I hope that both students who live on farms and those who don't will take this class in the future. It's a great opportunity and it's fun to teach." said Lanoue.

"I wanted to take this class to relate to agricultural people and because I live in an ag environment. In the beginning we learned things like what plants are used for medicine and what you can and can't eat. It's pretty interesting," Schiavo said.

"Even though my family doesn't live on an agricultural farm, we raise animals, which is why I was interested," said Kumerau.



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