By Dustin Shipman BSSD Superintendent

“The Ram’s Horn” is a regular column by Big Sky School District Superintendent Dustin Shipman, offering news and insight from the district.

Voters in the Big Sky School District passed the $830,000 building reserve levy on May 3. On behalf of the district, teachers and students I want to take this opportunity to express how grateful we are that the community supported the school in this election.

Finishing construction of Ophir Elementary School for our students and the community has been our No. 1 priority for the year. We will now begin getting everything in place for Martel Construction to get to work as soon as the students finish school, and we anticipate the building to be 100 percent ready for the first day of classes in fall 2016.

This is a very busy time of year for the students as teachers make more experiential learning trips a priority. One particularly unique experience for our students was a May 7-13 trip to Washington D.C. Tony Coppola, our middle and high school social studies teacher, conducts a year-long class that culminates with an annual trip to our nation’s capital with all of his students.

Coppola and the students work hard throughout the school year fundraising and planning, so this trip is really a community effort. The students gain a greater understanding of our capital while building lasting memories and sharing a common experience. This year, the students will have the opportunity to attend a Washington Nationals baseball game.

In addition, a group of our high school students recently returned from Costa Rica where they had daily interactions with Spanish language speakers. World language learning is becoming a vital part of not only the curriculum here at BSSD, but also an essential skill in an ever-changing global society. In order for students to really understand language and culture, time with native speakers is very important. Keith McHugh, our Spanish teacher and a native Spanish speaker himself, spent countless hours – including a weekend trip to Spain for an organizational meeting – to make this experience happen.

As with all learning opportunities at BSSD, our experiential learning process is one that is closely tied with learning outcomes. Experiential and participatory learning will become more important for our students as they progress through the 21st century. Tomorrow’s workers need to be able to apply knowledge and skills in new and unique situations, which is exactly the objective of “hands-on” learning.

Again, on behalf of the district, I express our gratitude for the participation in our recent levy election and we look forward to a successful remainder of the year.