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Limited space cuts DHS preschool short

Due to limited space, Dickinson High School's preschool is only able to operate during the second and fourth quarters of the school year. It must give up its room for other classes the rest of the year. Though this is nothing new, Laura Tangen, w...

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Due to limited space, Dickinson High School's preschool is only able to operate during the second and fourth quarters of the school year. It must give up its room for other classes the rest of the year.

Though this is nothing new, Laura Tangen, who runs the preschool, hopes they might one day have the space - maybe in a new school - for the preschool to have its own room.

"It'd be nice to run the pre-school all year long, so there's no breaks, so it's more consistent," said Tangen.

The kids who attend the preschool only go half of the year, whereas most preschools are yearlong, said Tangen. She added that there is a demand for the preschool.

It's not just community kids ages 3-5 who benefit from the preschool - the junior and senior students in Tangen's high school classes actually run the day care. They even make the lesson plans for the little kids, which include reading, letters, art, math and science.

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During the first and third quarters of each school year, the classroom is used for the freshman and sophomore class, child development, and for the junior and senior class, child-related careers.

At the end of the second and fourth quarters, students must disassemble the room, taking down the posters and decorations and lugging playsets, tables and chairs into one of two storage areas. They fit as much as possible in the adjacent room. The rest they carry up a steep, warehouse-style metal staircase to a closet. They spend about a week tearing down and putting up, said Tangen.

DHS student Baylee Stevens, who worked in the day care, said she doesn't mind the setup.

"I personally liked the whole setting-up process just 'cause we got to pick our themes, but I feel like it would be cool to leave it up," she said.

She's thinking about teaching kindergarten or first grade when she graduates.

If the preschool could be run all year, juniors and seniors would get more time with the kids, and freshman and sophomores could see them possibly once a week. Now, the latter only sees children once a quarter, when the parents bring them in for a play date. Tangen believes those experiences are important.

"High school students learn so much more by actually having to work with the kids," she said. "I can talk and lecture and teach them, but until you're working with the children, it's not the same. They're learning so much more by these real-life experiences."

During the quarters when preschool is not in session, the students spend two weeks in a community preschool, which Tangen said she'd like to continue even if they were able to run their preschool all year.

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"I still feel it's really valuable to go out and see other preschools and how they're run," she said.

Dickinson High School students engage with preschoolers as part of the high school's preschool program. (Kayla Henson / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson High School students engage with preschoolers as part of the high school's preschool program. (Kayla Henson / The Dickinson Press)

Related Topics: DICKINSON HIGH SCHOOL
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