WAUSAU - Field trips can be a fun way for students to spend the day outside the classroom. That’s especially important when the classroom is a computer at home.
Going on a field trip to a dairy farm would be a fun valuable learning experience for just about any kid. But for kids like Keegan Fischer, it’s even more valuable. That’s because Keegan goes to virtual school.
“I like going to a virtual school because I won’t be pressured by going into a real school, and actual physical school," says Keegan Fischer, a student at the Wisconsin Connection Academy. "Here I can take my time, and work whenever so it’s flexible for me anytime."
Wisconsin Connection Academy is also flexible for Keegan’s mom, Sarah Fischer.
“We choose Connections Academy because Keegan had health issues when he was smaller so he missed a lot of school," says Sarah Fischer. "This has been a good fit, it has worked great."
But the downside of virtual school is that students don’t get as much time to interact with each other. That’s why Keegan and his mom Sarah spent the day away from the computer.
“In a virtual school you’re not getting the same kind of socialization as if you’re going to a regular traditional bricks and mortar school,” says Jennifer Dikeman a Math teacher at Connections Academy.
“We put a lot of time and effort into these field trips and we really want our students to attend these so they can get out get out of the house get away from the computer and talk to other families that are here,” says Dikeman.
The field trip to Wilkes Farm is one of many throughout the school year.
“The field trips are a great place for students to just put names to faces as well as teachers," says Michele Lynch a social studies teacher at Connections Academy. "They get to meet their teachers we get to build more personal relationships find out more have good laughs with each other."
WAUSAU - Students at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau got to see Tibetan monks create a work of art steeped in Buddhist history.
The Mandala Sand Art is an ancient Tantric Buddhist tradition dating back thousands of years.
The Tibetan Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery are on an international tour called Mystical Arts of Tibet where they create mandalas in front of an audience.
"The colored patterns we are using, we are following the scriptures, the Buddhist scriptures. It's a very old tradition, more than 2,500 years ago," says Geshe Loden, head of the Mystical Arts of Tibet.
The monks' last visit to Northcentral Technical College in 2011 was so popular, they were invited back.
"At NTC we feel like it's important to offer our students a variety of different programming, and one of the things we feel our responsibility to do is expose our students to other cultures, other religions, other ideas," says Director of Student Development Shawn Sullivan.
The monks work hours at a time placing sand delicately in the lines of the intricate pattern.
The mandala will take them four days to complete, but the beautiful creation won't last long.
"After finishing this, making the mandala, we consecrate this completed mandala, and we dismantle it to symbolize the impermanence of all the conditioned things, all the phenomena," says Loden.
The monks' tour raises money for more than 3,000 monasteries in India. They also do it to raise awareness about the plight of Tibetans.
"Lord Buddha had started this, and that tradition keeps going on."
RHINELANDER - The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce group held a seminar at Nicolet College in Rhinelander Tuesday, to plan how to make Wisconsin more attractive to skilled workers and manufacturing businesses.
WMC's president believes the shortage in younger people in the industry has to do with two big misconceptions about manufacturing.
"The younger kids, as do their parents, have a perception on what manufacturing looks like and it's about 40 years out of date. If you're in an advanced manufacturing facility now, it's clean, it's high-tech, the engineers and technicians are working together," said Jim Morgan."We have a perception problem. I think we still have a definition of success that's says unless you have a four-year degree, you're not successful."
Morgan says groups like WMC work to change that perception. He believes workers with a two-year degree are just as successful in the industry.
So far, WMC held seminars at nine other technical colleges. For Rhinelander, more manufacturers could mean more economic independence.
"The Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce is looking to see how it can help and partner with local manufacturers to make the Rhinelander area a more favorable place for them to locate their businesses, as well as to attract and retain skilled workers to make those businesses successful," said Dana DeMet, Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce director.
Over the next six months, WMC will continue to look for ways to attract more workers and businesses to the state.
In December, it hopes to have 1000 representatives for a meeting in Milwaukee focusing on how manufacturing will benefit the state.
WMC also works with the University of Wisconsin system and the Wisconsin Technical Colleges.
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