LifeLinks students serve lunch at an open house Thursday at the school. LifeLinks is nearing the completion of its first year at the S. F. Goedde Building. (Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)
LifeLinks students serve lunch at an open house Thursday at the school. LifeLinks is nearing the completion of its first year at the S. F. Goedde Building. (Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)
BY ED GEBERT

Times Bulletin Editor

egebert@timesbulletin.com

VAN WERT - LifeLinks Community School has spent almost one full year in its bigger location - the S.F. Goedde Building - and the staff and administration are looking for even more growth in enrollment.
"The new facility has been huge, because it is huge! It gives us lots more room for the kids, lots more space," exclaimed LifeLinks Board President Sandy Honigford. "It is going to allow us to be able to expand. We currently have approximately 55 kids, and we are hoping to double that in the next couple of years. And with doubling that, we are going to have to double our staff. But this gives us the room to do that... It's really been a great move."

LifeLinks had formerly been housed in the classrooms at Trinity Friends Church, but when the Goedde Building was no longer being used as a school for the traditional classes, the community school was able to move in and stretch out a bit.

"Having more room has been great," stated social studies teacher Doug Adams.

The school showed off its facilities and students on Thursday with an open house for invited guests.

Typically, LifeLinks students perform better, thanks to an alternative way of doing things. The school has stressed teaching hands-on problem solving skills and real-world situations as a method of stimulating students who may have struggled in traditional classes.

The school is not restricted to Van Wert students. Honigford said, "The kids that come here, they're not all Van Wert City Schools kids. We have kids from Lincolnview, we have kids from Crestview, I think there's some kids from Paulding and Delphos."

LifeLinks has specialized in project-based learning from the outset, and Adams noted that the school has not been afraid to tweak the formula to make classes the most effective.

"When we started, we focused on project-based learning and this alternative-type setting," he said. "As we've gone through the three years, I think we've realized that some of the traditional ideas about what school should look like are still valid. We haven't gone away from project-based, but we have also incorporated some of the traditional aspects again. So it's kind of a hybrid of alternative setting with typical, everyday school."

Adams added that while the additional space has been wonderful, the attitude of the kids has been strong throughout the three years of LifeLinks. Honigford thinks the school is set up well to keep students interested in being there.

"The kids love it," she stated. "They love the accessibility. They feel they are more a part of the other kids."

LifeLinks accepts students for grades 6-12, and has even welcomed kids who had dropped out of school, then decided to get their diplomas. With the larger facility, the staff and administration of the school hopes to be able to help more students gain valuable education.