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      New apartment-like classroom teaches life skills

      HOWARD- Special needs students in Howard will have more hands on opportunities to learn life skills.Bay View Middle School debuted a classroom that's decked out like an apartment Wednesday.Students stirred food in skillets, and set out plates of snacks."We made different kinds of foods and different varieties. Vegetables and chips," said McKenna Coffey, an eighth grader in the program.Students were anxious to show off their new place to parents and staff. "We're standing in our new studio apartment that we have now at the middle school," said teacher Nikki Sheedy.Call this a housewarming party: The Life Skills room had been under construction since November. Students finally got inside it this week."Go like that, really slow, and then push it down," a teacher instructed a student mixing chip dip.Teachers say special needs students need this extra help with things most of us take for granted."Regular education students can follow a recipe on their own and know exactly where to measure, where we have to break everything up in smaller things in this classroom, do it step by step," said Sheedy.Students learn skills beyond the kitchen. They can be as small as putting away laundry and making a bed.So far, students have settled in."I like to do cooking and learn new things," said Coffey.Parents who stopped by for a tour were impressed by what their children have learned."They're doing really good. They've made a lot of progress it's really hard for them to do those kinds of things and it's great," said Andrea Newman, whose son Brashaun is a sixth grader in the Small steps and simple skills that will hopefully lead students towards a lifetime of independence.The ten thousand dollar price tag for the Life Skills Room was covered completely by donations and grants.