During a day full of showcases and learning sessions, Fort Worth ISD middle school students recently showed off what they learned through advisory classes.

In the theater advisory class, eighth-grade students put on and directed “Shrek.” They choreographed the show, made and designed costumes and worked on and off the stage.

Other options students could choose from included film, art or culinary classes. 

The showcase was a part of the Applied Learning Academy’s, AdvisoCon 2022, which takes place at the end of every school year at the program’s campus at 3908 McCart Ave.

Omar Marquez, a sixth-grade science teacher at Applied Learning Academy, taught his advisory class about media production. In the class, students like Victoria Sanders and Daniel Bang filmed videos called “Hot Topics,” similar to the YouTube talk show, “Hot Ones.” The show is hosted by Sean Evans, who asks celebrities questions as they attempt to eat chicken wings with different hot sauces.

“For this advisory I helped with everything really,” Sanders, who is in sixth grade, said. “I helped put up the sets and create them, film sometimes, and a lot of the times I was in those videos.”

The Applied Learning Academy has pillars such as problem-solving, communication and study skills, which helped the students with their “Hot Topics” videos.

“We asked a bunch of people how we would define those terms and see how they would give advice to people who were struggling within that,” Sanders said.

This particular advisory class helped the students gain skills on and off the camera.

Victoria Sanders (left) and Daniel Bang (right) and 6th graders at the Applied Learning Academy. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

Students are able to choose their own advisory class. One was “Rainbow History and Culture” by Christopher Najera, an eighth-grade art teacher at Applied Learning Academy.

“These kids were learning about people and events in LGBTQ history,” Najera said.

This was Najera’s first year teaching this topic. Specifically in Texas, he said, it’s a topic that is not covered much.

“Rarely do you see queer history in high schools, much less middle schools,” Najera said. “You might only get that in college and — regardless of public opinion — people within the community are a part of America’s history.”

Some other topics that Najera said aren’t covered as much in schools are the Chicano Movement, the United Farm Workers Movement and other movements in the 60s and 70s.

With that, he wanted to see if the students could apply what they learned and do some projects within those areas in a respectful way for their age.

Some parents pushed back on the topics, Najera said. But they respected that their children were free to participate.

“I tried to keep it respectful and make sure I could make this more academic,” Najera said.

Students could choose from many other classes, too. Sixth-grader Sanders not only had an advisory with Marquez, but also took an advisory called transition camp.

Transition camp helps fifth-graders adjust into the academy by helping them bond, work together through fun games, and take a tour of the school.

Her goal moving forward in the Applied Learning Academy is to enhance her literary skills, even though she’s at a high reading level.

“I think I could go even higher,” she said. “And that’s true for a lot of my other academic classes.”

Sanders also wants to indulge herself in other advisory groups such as art, music and even theater.

“I really like how this school pushes all the students to their full potential and further than that,” Sanders said. 

Fort Worth Report fellow Lonyae Coulter can be reached at lonyae.coulter@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here

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Lonyae Coulter is a junior at Texas Christian University. At TCU, Coulter is the Executive Editor for The Skiff (TCU360), the official student newspaper. She has also worked as a Page Designer and the...