For 20 days each school year, students at Virginia City High School take a break from their regular classes and indulge themselves in extracurricular learning.
If they have fallen behind in their classwork, they attend remediation classes during a four-week intersession.
If they've remained on schedule, they take a break with classes ranging from photography and artwork to interior design and rock 'n' roll.
"This is the sixth year we've had intersession classes," said Virginia City High School Principal Todd Hess. "As a small school, we've always been searching for ways to offer remediation to students without additional costs to taxpayers and to offer classes that students wouldn't traditionally see during the year."
For its efforts, Virginia City High was recognized in April with the Cashman Good Government Award, given by the Nevada Taxpayers Association.
"I think in a big district, it's more difficult to do something like this because there are so many other classes going on," Hess said.
So successful is the intersession program that staff from districts in Mineral and Lyon counties visited this year to observe the program. Staff from Lincoln County are scheduled to visit next week.
"This is such a great forerunner to No Child Left Behind and accountability goals," Hess said. "It sort of goes hand-in-hand with those."
Intersession is between the fall and spring semesters. The schedule is a little behind this year due to days off for snow. Although enrichment classes greatly outnumber remediation classes in English, math and science, the opportunity to review fundamentals helps students pass proficiencies. "Students who do a full month of remediation do extremely well on the proficiencies," Hess said.
On Wednesday, seven students gathered around a table in Bill Beeson's classroom for an Asian culture enrichment class. Beeson, who teaches school in China during the summer, shares his stories and knowledge of Asia, inspiring his students to travel and see the world.
"It's fun," said Nathan Adakai, 17. "We get to go on field trips and learn about other cultures."
The class has eaten at the Mandarin Garden Chinese Restaurant in Virginia City, will visit a sushi restaurant in Carson City next week, will travel to Reno to see Chinese acrobats, and visit the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.
Cody Griffin, 15, has seen Japan and Thailand, but Beeson's stories about China encourage him to see more.
"I definitely want to go to China now," he said. "Bill's been there. It's a different place from anything else in the world."
About 150 students attend Virginia City High. The 14 teachers at the school all teach during the intersession, which ends Feb. 2 with a finale featuring '80s rock, belly dancing and poetry readings.
Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at email@example.com or 881-1219.