Classroom without walls

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Storm Lake High School Advanced Career Exploration (ACE) students are given the opportunity to not only explore career choices but go out into the work world and experience those careers. Currently, there are nine students working in nine Storm Lake businesses.?

ACE advisor Peg Havens gets just as enthusiastic about the internship program as the students and is so appreciative of the businesses that have taken part in the program. Since 2003 when the program began, 40 SL businesses, one Alta business and the school district have shared their time with the students.

"The employees are so patient with the kids; they help them and give up their time for them. I am most appreciative and we are so lucky. This is like a classroom without walls for the students. It is a privilege and they earn the right to become part of the program," she shared.

Pre-requisite to be in the internship program is that the students must have participated in ACE as a junior, must have met the 45 career-based benchmarks and of course, if they can find time - either one or two class periods - to devote to the program.

When the school year begins, the students take tests to determine their career interests; Havens and the students then contact businesses.

"I will not send them to a place they don't want to go," she said.

There have been some cases where the internships have not worked out but there have been many success stories; some students have landed paid positions that have lasted longer than the internship.

To give the students even a greater opportunity, two internships are arranged in a semester.

"I encourage this so they can pursue two career areas," the advisor said.

If their schedules allow it, students may also take part in internships during the second semester as well.

"The internship gives them hands-on job skills plus helps them get a feel for that job. They can find out that there are some things not very exciting with a job and find that they don't really want to do certain tasks. But that's the real world."

The students are evaluated by their job supervisors and also by Havens who pops in to see them on-site a couple times during the internship.

"For me, attendance is the most important skill they can demonstrate," she said.

Other areas looked at are attitude, appearance, initiative, social skills, speed, following instructions, remembering instructions, independence and communication.

Mclaine Jorgensen would like to pursue an international business career. She landed an internship at King's Pointe working at the front desk. She feels this opportunity has been good and has allowed her to meet with the public. Being involved, she said, "looked like a good opportunity."

Supervisors Lesly Franco said Mclaine has "definitely been a good help." And supervisor Andrew Ansorge said "she is willing to learn about anything including the computer program."

Malisa Sihachak is helping out in Sharon Butterfield's classroom. She is still exploring her next career move but she is seriously considering going into education because of the positive experience she has received.

Mrs. Butterfield is more than willing to share her classroom with Malisa.

"She is very helpful. I think this is a good program for them to see if the field they have an interest in could lead them to a career."

Brenda Valle enjoys graphic arts. She is currently doing an internship at Color-ize.

"It's different than what I thought it would be," she admitted, glad of the chance to see all the angles the job involves. She is learning a great deal.

Color-ize owner Lona Yender said Brenda is "fun to have around" and showed her dedication by switching her school schedule around to fit in time to spend at the internship.

Keegan Morgan has a great interest in auto body and mechanics. He has taken classes at SLHS and is now doing an internship at Pete's Body Shop.

"The (internship) program is really good," he said. "It teaches good work ethics."

He has had the chance to use some of the skills he has already acquired but also to learn new ones like "how to grind down paint, how to take precautions such as the importance of wearing eye protective gear and the importance of being careful with the customers' cars."

"Pete" Pedersen has been involved in the internship program before and is glad to be able to "help someone out if they want to see if they like it."

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