New CTE building to prepare students for the workforce

September 19, 2018

BELLE FOURCHE –– Gov. Dennis Daugaard helped dedicate and unveil the Belle Fourche School District’s $2.87 million Career and Technical Education (CTE) building Tuesday.

“We need to grow a job-ready workforce for the benefit of our children, communities, and future generations,” Steve Willard, school district superintendent, said at the dedication.

The district broke ground on the 21,000-square-foot property at the corner of Lawrence Street and Thirteenth Avenue to the north of the Belle Fourche High School last fall.

The 100-by-100-foot building is planned to fulfill the local needs for educating high school students in numerous industries including welding, family and consumer science, accounting, hospitality, and agriculture, and includes an area for an expanded science, technology, engineering, and mathematics curriculum. The new building will offer high school students who elect to take CTE courses better opportunities to do so, in a more modern facility.

Willard said the addition was funded with district capital outlay monies, a matching $500,000 workforce development grant from the state, and a zero-interest loan from Butte Electric.

The entire high school student body was present to witness and participate in the celebration.

Willard spoke about the value the enhanced CTE opportunities the new building will offer area students.

“In participating in career and technical classes, students will have the opportunity to learn about and experience working in a specific career,” he said. “Students will find out what careers they like, and just as important, they will discover the careers they are not interested in.”

Willard said the vision of the Belle Fourche School Board mirrors that of Daugaard’s.

“Belle Fourche students will have the opportunity, if they choose, to enter the workforce right out of high school with skills that will make them valuable employees for local and regional businesses and industry,” he added.

The district, Willard said, is growing partnerships with local businesses to make internships available for students to experience work in specific career fields. Additionally, he said, the district is collaborating with Western Dakota Tech in Rapid City to assist the high school students in making career choices.

“And in the future, we’re planning to make adult classes available to assist those wanting to retool their careers,” he said. “I would like to thank Gov. Daugaard, the (South Dakota) Department of Education, Butte Electric, the West River Foundation, the great city of Belle Fourche, the Belle Fourche school board, the Belle Fourche School District Foundation, and industry leaders in the community of Belle Fourche for financial, technical, and emotional support for this endeavor.”

Daugaard echoed Willard’s sentiments.

“Whether you’re dreaming of owning your own business, or becoming a nurse, conducting scientific research, being a software engineer, it doesn’t matter; work is an important part of life,” Daugaard said.

Daugaard said that in South Dakota, only about 60 percent of students who embark upon continued education after high school complete their education and earn a degree within six years.

“Even those who have a degree … maybe they finish (college), and they still can’t find a good job,” he said. “Of those who have a four-year degree, only about a third today say their education prepared them for their job. So they went to four years of school, paid quite a bit of money (tuition), but it did not prepare them for the job that they have.”

Daugaard commended Willard for his foresight and commitment to career and technical education.

“He understands that you students out there need to take this time in high school and understand the kinds of things that you enjoy doing and learn the kinds of things that have job prospects,” he said. “This is what led you to build this new CTE building here.”

In closing, Daugaard implored the students present to consider making South Dakota their forever homes.

“South Dakota has wonderful opportunities here,” he said. “We have very low costs, low taxes, a great quality of life, great healthcare systems, great education systems, a clean environment, we’ve got a lot going for us here.”

“Here you have family and friends and a community that loves you,” Daugaard said. “And at the end of the days on earth that you have, that is so much more important that anything else. Remember to consider a future here in South Dakota among a family and friends that love you.”

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