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UASD social studies classes focus on student growth, not Critical Race Theory

The Upper Adams School District (UASD) school board heard presentations about district courses and health concerns at its curriculum and extra curriculum committee Tuesday.

“As students move through UASD development from Kindergarten to 12th grade, the district wide goal is to prepare students to responsibly engage the world and understand the world they live in,” said Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Joseph Albin. “We always seek to empower each student to really be a responsible and productive individual.”

Social Studies Curricula

Albin share information about the district’s social studies curriculum, saying the approach was to present a balanced perspective, where students are encouraged to develop their own political thoughts and respect multiple viewpoints.

Albin said the social studies curriculum is based on Pennsylvania State Standards, including topics of history, geography, economics, and civic and government.

Albin said Critical Race Theory was a broad and complex topic that was not part of the social studies curriculum. Rather, the curriculum aims to acknowledge the importance of what has happened in the past while maintaining a student’s positive self-esteem.

“We do not teach in a way that is designed or intended to make any student feel ashamed or negatively about themselves,” Albin said. “We strive to provide that challenging and inspiring educational series of opportunities that we believe the board expects of us and our community expects of us.”

Spanish Language Curriculum

According to a presentation by AP Spanish Teacher Gina Pecher, UASD is proud to offer multiple levels of Spanish curriculum, based on an understanding of community’s diverse levels of Spanish and English fluency, within the language department of the district,

Pecher said UASD’s Heritage 1 and Heritage 2 level Spanish classes provide more than just basic challenges for native and heritage speaking students to improve their fluency.

The Heritage classes are specially designed for students who speak Spanish at home to improve literacy and cultural skills in Spanish, she said.

The courses help establish confidence and improve both Spanish and English comprehension as well as prepare students for AP Spanish.

More than just learning a native language, the Heritage Spanish class is “also about teaching them to think critically,” she said.  

Now in her third-year teaching AP Spanish, Pecher has been blown away by the growth of her students. “I cannot tell you how rewarding it is to have heritage speakers have a class that speaks to them, that is molded and shaped for them specifically,” she said.

COVID-19 and Health Concerns

In other business, as COVID-19 continues to rear its ugly head, Superintendent Wesley Doll presented health and safety information.

As of the end of December, school district COVID-19 cases are 33 positive cases and 38 quarantines for both adults and students. Doll said the uptick in cases and transmission rate was possibly due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Returning back to school after the holiday, officials are continuing to monitor 15 positive cases and 27 quarantines. District wide, between approximately 25-28 percent of students continue to wear optional masks, he said.

On the basis of his bi-weekly meetings with district nurses, Doll noted that all types of winter sicknesses are in bloom including the flu, the common cold, and respiratory illnesses.

In an effort to keep everyone in the school district as safe as possible, Doll once again reiterated the crucial need to stay home when under the weather.

As a parent, Doll acknowledged the challenges of keeping sick children home, but pleaded that “keeping sick children at home is very, very helpful for us continuing to keep education going in-person here within our district.”

The school board will next meet January 18.

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A.L. Grabenstein, reporter, is a graduate of Philadelphia's La Salle University with a B.A in Communication and has been a journalist since 2016. She has reported for the Gettysburg Times and the Times Herald in Norristown, PA. Grabenstein moved to Gettysburg from Montgomery County in 2019. She was born in San Antonio, TX., and previously lived in Virginia, and North Carolina. Grabenstein is actively involved in the borough of Gettysburg and loves giving voices to the local community.

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