Sixth-grade students at Custer Baker Intermediate School launched rockets they built into the air.

Down the hall, classmates were baking and decorating sugar cookies and watching a popular British cooking show. And kids interested in William Shakespeare’s work built swords and goblets from empty toilet paper rolls and performed their own version of “Julius Caesar.”

Educators at Custer Baker Intermediate School have taken a new approach to the end of the school year.

Story continues below gallery

Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

After a year of standardized tests and following Indiana Department of Education curriculum, students and teachers were able to let loose in classes that better connected to their interest and hobbies.

The B4UGO initiative was started this year as a way to allow students and teachers to unwind after a busy school year by taking specially designed classes that were focused on fun and hobby rather than what might be on a test or was dictated by curriculum, teachers said.

“We are so confined by the curriculum, it is nice for teachers to teach the things they enjoy,” English teacher Mandee Walls said.

Teachers made commercials advertising the classes they wanted to teach and students could pick two classes from a list of dozens that had names like “Fancy Flip Flop Fever,” “Passport to France” and What a RACKET.”

“There really is something for everyone,” said Libby Findley, math and social studies teacher. “This is something that gets the kids an interest to find.”

Students spent the morning in one class and the afternoon on another topic. None of the classes had to fit what would be traditional Indiana Department of Education curriculum goals, but some did.

Science, technology, engineering and math were covered with students designing and launching their own rockets. A math teacher taught measurements and food safety while teaching a baking class. Students enrolled in a Shakespeare class wrote their own small plays and then translated them into the type of language Shakespeare used.

“This is something to keep them busy and engaged at the end of the year,” Findley said.

After just finishing up standardized tests, students enjoyed the reprieve from the structured classroom settings.

“We take a break from all of the school that we have to do,” sixth-grader Kyle Boardman said.

Part of the appeal for teachers is to allow them to show students what they like to do outside of school and to expand what the students could be interested in, teachers said.

“For teachers, it is an opportunity to share our passion with students,” science teacher Stacy Devenport said.

Author photo
Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2770.