FDSH honors math/science

The 30th annual Senior Science and Mathematics Recognition Evening at Fort Dodge Senior High Thursday honored those students who went “above and beyond” in their studies. Not content with just the academic requirements, they pursued and excelled in advanced math and science courses.

Seventy high school students were recognized for their accomplishments.

“As always, I’m really proud of the number of our kids that have taken math and science courses above and beyond what the graduation requirements are,” Dave Keane, FDSH principal, said. “We know how important math and science are going to be in the world in which these students are going to have to live in and compete for jobs in.”

Keane described the night as a “neat event.”

“I’ve never seen this in any other school,” he said, “but it’s really nice to recognize those kids who are going above and beyond.”

Janelle Swanson, Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency speech and language chair, was the evening’s guest speaker. Swanson, a Fort Dodge Senior High graduate, spoke about the differences between when she graduated in 1981 and today.

“At the time, the highest math class offering was pre-calculus,” she said. “And there was only one staff member who taught that, and he happened to be my dad.”

Computer instruction was more limited, and less important to studies.

“Everything you learned then, is totally obsolete now,” Swanson said. “There might have been a few computers in the library at the time, but we looked up stuff on microfiche. And no cell phones. We made it through without cell phones.”

Swanson added that she remembered learning about something that would be “coming out in the next few years.”

“It was called a CD,” she said. “We were like, how is that possible?”

At first, Swanson was baffled why she was asked to be the evening’s guest speaker, she said.

“I’m an English language pathologist,” she said. “You wouldn’t normally think math and science for someone like me.”

Swanson emphasized, though, that classes she took in high school have benefited her in life.

“I’m not an actuary, and I’m not an engineer, but I did take advanced math and science classes in school. In my house, it wasn’t an option,” she said. “But I did need them for all the advanced math and science classes I took in college, and I needed them to be successful in my career, as well.”

She added, “More importantly, math and science classes taught me how to think and not what to think. I had to figure stuff out.”

Swanson concluded by speaking on the importance of learning and quoting Mark Twain.

“I think what I learned the most is, you don’t come out of college or high school learning everything you need to know,” she said. “I encourage you to dream, discover, explore.”