Already well-known for its famous multicultural connections with the well-traveled Norwegian Dancers, Stoughton High School will be getting global right in their own school next week.
Looking to find ways to connect students with global learning opportunities, the Stoughton Area School District will host a group of volunteer guest speakers during its first “Go Global Conference” on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at the high school.
Eight 25-minute sessions are scheduled, including an African drum ensemble, an administrator who’s lived abroad, a graduate who studied overseas in the Peace Corps and an SHS alumni who started his own music discovery and streaming platform. And of course, the Norwegian Dancers will participate, teaching some “mini-sessions” for their classmates on some of their dances, organizer Stephanie Krentz told the Hub last week.
“They were really excited to do that,” she said. “They don’t really do a lot of performances or work with their own student body.”
Krentz, who taught German at SHS for six years before moving to a district mentoring role this year, said she’s often asked why learning languages is important for high schoolers, and wanted to find a way to make sure “people understand value of why learning language is important or even just learning about other cultures.”
She was thinking of a way to bring in people from the community to help students “see world languages being used in daily lives outside of the classroom,” when Krenz heard the goal of the latest round of the district’s “innovation grants” for faculty ideas.
“(It was) “improving student achievement, engaging students in their own learning and specifically fostering a culture of collaboration between our school and community,” she said. “When I heard that I was like, ‘Check, check, check,’” she said.
Krentz didn’t just want to make it about German, or Spanish – the two foreign languages taught at the school. But she did want local connections, seeking out people with Stoughton or Dane County connections who had either worked or studied abroad or worked in an area that requires “knowledge or awareness of other countries and cultures.”
“We’re starting kind of small this year to kind of see how it goes,” she said “We’ve reached out to local people to come and talk to our students about how using languages or other cultures can be beneficial to their life outside of the school,” she said.
While the conference is only open to 100 or so high schoolers who are currently enrolled in foreign language courses, she said she’d like to see more students be able to attend in the future.
While Krentz said it’s not known yet if the conference will continue once this year’s grant funding runs out, there “isn’t a whole lot of expense,” with many people volunteering their time.
“We’re going to see how it goes this first time, and if it continues to roll, then it could be done again next year, perhaps as a whole day event or could grow to be a weekend event, just depending on what happens,” she said.”This is a learning year.”
Krentz said people interested in potentially helping out with a conference next year can contact her at email@example.com or 877-5038.