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Dodge Middle School: After-school exploration

A student in Dodge Middle School’s computer and anime club works on her anime after school one day last week.

Students at Dodge Middle School are getting a chance to explore their creative side — and their techie side — this year, thanks to the school’s computer and anime clubs.

The clubs are more or less one and the same, but students have several things they can do or try if they choose to participate, advisor Chris Elwell said.

“It’s pretty eclectic,” Elwell said. “I haven’t ever done this as a structured cycle of activity. I have always let the kids come up with their own interests and go from there.”

Kids have a few options if they join the clubs. Some may choose to draw and sketch characters, or they may decide they want to work on computer animation. If they want to work on photo editing, they can do that, too. Ultimately, they will work together to create a storyline and produce an animated video.

The options for students are very open, Elwell said. Students get to choose what they want to work on, get started and see if that’s the direction they want to continue. If not, they can try something else.

“We try to get them to connect with their different interests, and then get them set up on the different projects,” Elwell said. “There isn’t a curriculum or set goals in the beginning. We’ll set them up as we go.”

The club has been moved to the technology room at Dodge Middle School. As a technology instructor, Elwell will be around to answer questions or give ideas, but the students will do all of the work. Only now, they have more computers and equipment available to do that work.

“I enjoy having the kids learn the filming and photography part. I try to incorporate that into some of my classrooms, so this is another opportunity to expose students to more options for filmmaking,” Elwell said.

The club had its first meeting of the school year Tuesday afternoon. Elwell has set the club’s schedule so students can meet up to three times each month on the designated Tuesdays or Thursdays and they can work at their own pace.

The clubs meet from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Students who are interested in joining can contact Elwell in person, or can email her at celwell@farmington.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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