Archeology available for DHS students in January
Starting in January, juniors and seniors in De Soto USD 232 could visit the prehistoric world one day and the Civil War the next.
The newly created honors archeology and artifacts course, taught by museum connections instructor Keil Hileman, begins in the new semester. And the course already has a waiting list for students.
Sixteen students from MVHS and 16 students from DHS will attend the class on alternating days for one hour and 35 minutes, the typical block schedule.
The class will be at Monticello Trails Middle School, where Hileman teaches full-time. Students from DHS will take a bus to MTMS for the class.
Honors Archeology and Artifacts is described as an entry-level course for academically advanced students seeking an unusual history and research opportunity.
Hileman said juniors and seniors interested in taking the course had to withstand an application process.
Students had to show their motivation for taking the course and have a teacher referral, he said.
Archeology and Artifacts, Hileman said, is largely about the methods of archaeological research, practice, observations and interpretations and how artifacts are collected from around the world.
Students in the course will be required to research and write two in-depth papers on anything in the class, Hileman said.
“I looked at the other honors courses and what projects and papers they have due,” he said. “They pick two things in history that they want to research and they’ll create a presentation.”
Hileman’s classroom is now equipped with 32 dig tables, so each student has his or her own space. Each dig space is 10 inches deep and 19 inches across.
In those dig tables, Hileman will bury artifacts from a number of eras, including World Wars I and II, the late 1800s and the 1900s.
“I specifically left the title of the class open,” he said. “Notice it doesn’t say a specific type of artifact or archeology. The digs won’t be in sequence.”
Early in the fall semester, Hileman and district administrators researched how to expand MTMS Museum Connections course.
“We wanted to expand the museum and expand the class to all kids in the district,” Hileman said. “Granted they have to wait until they are a junior or senior and have to be accepted, but for kids with interest in the area it won’t be a problem. It’s a class for people who love history and love museums and artifacts.”
The initial idea for expanding to the high school level included offering college credit through the advanced placement or college-now programs. However, the district could not find a comparable college course.
“AP (advanced placement) program doesn’t have a test for it, so it’s not offered,” Hileman explained. “And Johnson County Community College’s archeology course doesn’t take a final; they do projects, and so since they don’t have a set final we can’t give it. Honors lets me do more and expect more from the class.”
Hileman said he looks forward to visiting with former students at MVHS and new faces from DHS.
“It’s a completely different level of conversation,” he said. “There are subjects you have to avoid with middle-schoolers, like the graphic photos from the Holocaust. In
high school, the kids are about to step off into the real world. Not many middle school parents want their kids to hear such adult stories.”
Although the additional class leaves Hileman with just a small planning period, he said he wouldn’t want to change anything about the opportunity to teach the new course.
“I’m getting to build a dream,” he said. “If most adults sat in on the class, most would wish they had this class. I teach the way I wish I had been taught and I was fortunate to have some cutting-edge teachers.”