Point of Discovery
Charter school adds 11th grade programming
By Olivia De Valk
On Jan. 11, the Stevens Point School Board moved to add 11th grade programming to the project-based charter school, Point of Discovery.
Dan Lathrop has served as principal at Point of Discovery since it opened in the fall of 2015.
Point of Discovery was originally open to students in grades six to eight.
The school expanded to include ninth grade soon after to mirror the junior high structure at Ben Franklin and PJ Jacobs, the other public junior high schools in the Stevens Point school district.
With the addition of ninth grade came interest from parents and students alike to expand Point of Discovery into high school.
Lathrop said there were many, “Parents and kids who wanted to stay here and have a different high school experience than what they would have at SPASH.”
Given the strong student interest, Point of Discovery began teaching tenth grade curriculum in the fall of 2020.
Literacy teacher, Cathy Barbier, believes that Point of Discovery is an important option for students who might not succeed in a traditional school setting.
“Not all students learn under one model of education. For our district, I think it’s huge, having an option, a choice for students” Barbier said. “Not everyone succeeds in a really big school like SPASH.”
Where Point of Discovery differs from the traditional model of education that Barbier mentioned is its focus on “expeditionary learning.”
Lathrop explained that Point of Discovery pushes its students to focus on depth and thematic understanding.
Depending on the student’s grade level, each semester or each year has an overarching theme that helps tie all school subjects together. Students use the theme as a framework for developing their own projects.
“We want students to create projects that matter for an audience beyond school walls,” Lathrop said.
Tenth graders, Aiden and Aileen (last names withheld), are eager to continue contributing their projects to the Stevens Point community as eleventh graders in the fall of 2021.
Both students are thankful for their close relationships with their teachers and the opportunity to continue to pursue their interests in an educational setting.
Through her classes at Point of Discovery Aileen uncovered a passion for the environment.
She uses that passion to guide her projects. This year she is one of her projects is a paper on the language that politicians have used around climate change dating back to the 1900s.
The opportunity to continue to grade eleven already has Aileen making plans for what she’d like to work on in the future.
“Next year, I want to design my own environmental project where I would go to different restaurants and donate eco-friendly packaging stuff instead of styrofoam,” Aileen said.
Both Aileen and Aiden mentioned projects that directly tackle issues facing the Stevens Point community.
Aiden remembers in one of her early years at Point of Discovery, learning about water conservation and then working with her classmates to create their own strategies to address the problems facing water conservation.
Aiden said one of the things that all of her projects have shown her is that, “you can make the world a better place.”