ST. CLOUD -- Students in grades six through eight in St. Cloud will be taking some new required classes next school year.

At Wednesday night's meeting, the St. Cloud school board approved five new courses to be offered to middle schoolers at North Junior High, South Junior High, and Kennedy Community School.

The new offerings are partially prompted by changes to the Minnesota Department of Education’s fine arts standards for the 2021-2022 school year. Students must be offered courses in at least three of the five following areas: visual arts, media arts, theatre, dance, and music, and they must also take two of them each year. In response, the district is adding Media Arts 6,7, and 8.

Additionally, the district will be adding two courses that Director of Teaching and Learning Lori Posch says will help students explore careers and learn important personal life skills.

One of the things we've heard is the need to provide our students with some practical, everyday life skills, and that's what this will do. We know that as our students reach that middle-level, that desire for independence starts to grow.

Life Smarts 1.0 will be required for sixth graders and focus on personal health and wellness, first aid, healthcare, and health science. Life Smarts 2.0 will be required for eighth graders and focus on budgeting, taxes, personal finance, and financial literacy.

Formal curriculum writing for the new courses will take place this spring and summer.

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