The Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education on Monday approved a workplace internship program for students at Great Bend High School.
February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month, and the program was featured in a report from Lacy Wolters, GBHS ACT/Career Coordinator, and Deputy Director Kip Wilson, CTE Coordinator.
Wolters said GBHS’s CTE programs allow students to explore careers and what life after high school might be like.
“They start with career awareness,” she said. This involves field trips and guest speakers. From there, they move on to career exploration, such as job shadowing, where students watch potential employers do their jobs for a day or two. “And then the final piece is career preparation. This is where the internships take place.
GBHS officially launched its job shadowing program in 2017. Since its inception, more than 60 businesses in Barton County – and a few in other counties – have participated in more than 250 “career shadowings” .
“We have found this to be very beneficial for our students when choosing careers, as well as for business,” Wolters said. “Some of those shadows actually turned into long-term jobs where the student did very well and eventually got offered a job.
“We would like this to continue,” she continued. “But we find that our students need more career exposure than a day and a half.”
Last summer Randy Wetzel, then ETC coordinator, wrote a Perkins grant for the district. Thanks to that, Wolters said, GBHS is one of 25 schools in Kansas piloting a work-based learning program.
“Through this program, we’ve had a lot of practice this year,” Wolters said.
“Going forward, what we’d like to do is add those internships this year and then eventually work with the county to add apprenticeships — those are longer-term opportunities for our students.”
Internships will be added to GBHS pathway programs. Wolters explained that the state of Kansas has developed fields or clusters of jobs with similar skills and created career paths for in-demand jobs. GBHS offers 13 courses; each has a series of courses that students take beginning in their second year. The courses have an introductory level, a technical level and an application level.
The application level, in a student’s final year, is where internships will be added.
“It can be paid or unpaid,” she said, adding that students can earn high school credits during their internship.
The program follows some formal state guidelines. Students cannot do an internship with a family member, for example. Their curriculum will follow a written plan.
School board member Chad Burroughs, who works for the Great Bend Fire Department, welcomed the idea. He said the students sometimes did job shadowing in the fire department, but because every day is different for firefighters, the students didn’t get a clear picture of the job during that brief period. “I like the idea of having them come over multiple days,” he said.
Contributions and grant applications
In other matters, the school board approved several contributions and a grant application:
• Perfect Attendance Bike Rebate Program
Local customers supporting a Perfect Attendance Bicycle Giveaway program will again donate bicycles to each elementary school for perfect attendance incentives. Eligible students with perfect attendance throughout the year will have their names placed in drawings for the bikes.
Karen Shaner and Jane Isern, representing all donors, requested permission to continue the bicycle giveaway program. This will be the 10th year for the donation of this program.
• Lincoln Elementary received $408.16 from Kroger.
• Riley Elementary received $292.79 from Kroger.
• T-shirt sales by the GBHS softball team resulted in a $567.24 rebate from the seller, Factory 233.
• Great Bend Middle received an anonymous $50 contribution for MTSS intervention recognition.
• The GBHS Panther Pantry received a donation of $120 from Prince of Peace Catholic Church.
• Jefferson Principal Adam Niedens has been granted approval to apply for a OneOk Public School Grant that funds up to $5,000. The grant would provide opportunities to cultivate and improve relationships with community leaders while working together to improve public education.