'Second Step' focuses on social and emotional learning.

Students at Highland School this fall are expanding their minds in the typical core subject areas, like reading, math, science, social studies and English/language arts.

But they're taking a "Second Step" in their learning as well, thanks to the adoption of a curriculum carrying that name that, Principal Lela Olson said, focuses on social and emotional learning as a supplement to academic learning.

As part of the Second Step curriculum, a weekly lesson is delivered to the students in their classroom and teachers have the option of doing follow-up activities throughout the week, each totaling five to 10 minutes. There is a parent/family component as well, Olson said, with opportunities for students to bring home some Second Step activities to complete with their parents. "It's an opportunity for another family connection to school," she said.

Second Step curriculum topics include empathy, emotion management, problem solving, bullying prevention, substance abuse, and others. Olson said she'd like to present more details on the initiative to the Crookston School Board later in the fall, and said a "Family Night" could also be scheduled at Highland that focus on Second Step activities.

Safety first
As school starts each fall, there's typically a period of adjustment time for students, especially younger ones, to get accustomed to the school routine again and what they're supposed to be doing, and not doing.

At Highland this fall, Olson said, a video featuring students and teachers for the first time was produced to help all students in the school get up to speed on safety and other things they're supposed to be doing.

Led by teachers Bill Gillette and Laurie Wavra, students Jasmine Haglund, Zach Johnson, Tatum Lubinski, Teagen Lubinski and Amelia Overgaard are featured in the video that covers topics such as lunch and playground do's and don'ts and safety procedures, how to properly enter and exit the school before and after recess, how to wash their hands, etc.

"Safety First and Have Fun" was the video theme, Olson said.

"They modeled how to do things correctly," she explained, adding that the video was shown to each classroom during the first week of school.