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Going buggy at North Hall Middle School
Students collect and eat a collection of insects in directed studies class
Students in Kathy Mellette's eighth-grade directed studies class at North Hall Middle School got to choose an insect to eat for completing their bug unit. - photo by BRANDEE A. THOMAS

Most people can agree that bugs have their place — outside and away from food.

But on Friday, some North Hall Middle School students munched on insects like they were popcorn.

“They didn’t really have a lot of taste,” said Sean Taylor, after trying sour cream and onion-flavored crickets.

“They were just really, really crunchy.”

As a treat for completing their entomology unit, directed studies instructor Kathy Mellette brought in packages of crickets and worms for the students to taste.

The creepy, crawly buffet was a part of the student’s Art and Insect Gala, where they showcased their individual projects in the school’s media center Friday.

After learning they were selected for the directed studies program, the students were able to work on their first independent study for the class over the summer. They had to collect at least 25 bugs and research their scientific classification and name.

“I found some of mine when we went camping,” said Tucker Buffington, a directed studies student.

For his project, Tucker arranged his bugs by genus on a Halloween-themed display board with the title “Wanted: Dead or Alive.”

“My mom helped me come up with the Halloween idea, but I came up with the title because I wanted the bugs dead or alive,” Tucker said.

Each of the students used their own method for preserving the integrity of the bug carcasses.

“I put mine in the freezer overnight to kill them,” said Ashley Johnston, a North Hall eighth-grader.

“Once, when I was taking them out, some were still alive and started crawling around in the freezer. That was gross.”

Weylin Oliver used a container filled with alcohol to preserve his bugs, including a giant Hercules beetle.

Some of the students went out to collect their specimens, others found some in a more roundabout manner.

“Our cat caught a big moth and brought it inside,” Ashley said.

Although the project was an opportunity for students to learn things on their own, some say their projects turned into a family-affair.

“After they found out what I was doing, my friends and family got really interested and kept bringing me bugs,” said MaKenzie Bryant, a directed studies student.

“I only needed 25 but I ended up with a lot more.” 

The insect unit is just one area of study that the students will embark on this school year.

“Directed study is a honors elective course where the students can earn high school credit. This class is all about self-discovery,” said Mellette. 

“I chose the entomology unit because that’s something that I found interesting, but from here on out the students will get to study whatever interests them. By studying their individual interests, they’re able to unlock their passions.”

During the yearlong course, Mellette says the students also spend a lot of time discovering their learning and communication styles.

“Knowing their strengths helps them to succeed in all areas of their lives,” Mellette said, “not just in this class.”