Archive for Wednesday, August 29, 2001

New BHS program could soon be part of graduation requirements

August 29, 2001

Knowing how to complete a resume, build and update a portfolio and write a good cover letter could soon be requirements needed to graduate from the Baldwin school district.

The skills are part of the Kansas School to Careers program the district has already implemented for the school year. The program, which is geared for students grades K-12, combines academics and real life through a series of projects designed specifically for each grade level.

School to Careers coordinator Patty Lenning said the district would like to see the Board of Education approve the request to make the program part of the graduation requirements.

"A lot of schools are having trouble with senior sluff off," she said. "Students decide they want to take it easy their last year and take the bare minimum required classes.

"We prefer the senior year be challenging," Lenning said, "to have something to work toward."

Lenning said School to Careers, which Baldwin is implementing into the curriculum for the first time this year, is a relatively new program for Kansas.

She said Baldwin adopted it to give its students more career information and skills.

"We want to connect academics to real life experiences, especially in the high school," she said.

The program begins with an introductory, elementary level.

The K-5 level of the program is also referred to as Sowing Early Employment Dreams.

With the help of trainers, workbooks and two lessons a month, Lenning said students will build on skills as they get older. This will include topics such as learning about the value of work and different types of jobs people have.

She said students in grades 3-5 will also get an opportunity to attend a career fair to listen to people talk about their jobs.

The junior high level consists of a synergistic model, which will be included in the practical arts classes.

Once a month, students will work at computer modular stations, researching and doing hands-on activities through step by step computer programs, Lenning said.

"We're trying to get them to explore all sorts of things," she said. "They'll always have to research something. They'll have to make and read graphs and they'll have to do math computations."

Some of the modules available include microbiology, digital video, animals, electricity and robots. Lenning said the district currently has eight modules and hopes to add more next year.

The high school level is the one the district hopes to make part of the graduation requirements. Each grade level will have a certain number of skills to accomplish and a portfolio of their work to turn in at the end of the year.

Also, each high school student receives a Writers, Inc. textbook, which includes tips for resume writing, reading graphs, persuasive writing and speaking techniques.

The components of the high school program would be taught by the faculty.

Lenning said the requirements begin with the freshmen class working on skills such as time management, note taking, goal setting and completing homework.

"We're trying to make them more comfortable and get them through the system," she said.

The first day of school, when the upperclassmen did not attend, was part of that orientation period, she said.

"I think a lot of parents I talked to really appreciated that extra day," Lenning said.

Sophomores will complete a career assessment computer program. It will list possible jobs and colleges for the students, she said.

The students must also choose three careers or pathways and research their choices. That will eventually lead to resume and cover letter writing and job shadowing.

Juniors will update resumes, take the ACT, write a paper after a college, technical or apprenticeship visit and research post high school education.

Seniors will update resumes and cover letters, work on college entrance essays, and fill out college or career applications.

Baldwin High School principal Allen Poplin said the school would like to make School to Careers part of the graduation requirements to give students some credit or validation for completing the skills.

"We want to hold the students accountable," Poplin said. "We want to make sure they're doing their best."

If the school board were to approve the request, students would be graded either by satisfactory or unsatisfactory grade.

Poplin said if the decision for the graduation requirements was made by the end of this semester, this year's freshmen would be the first ones to complete all of the requirements.

He said he thought the program was something the district needed to implement.

"A lot of students don't know what they want when they're done with high school," he said. "The components of this fit well no matter what they choose to do. These are good skills to have."

Lenning said it's important students have these skills when they're done with high school.

"With all of these things, they should be very comfortable going to college, to a technical school or straight into the work force," she said.

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