South Dakota high school runs career program for 20 years
By SARA BERTSCH
Nov. 27, 2017
MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) — Every other day, more than 50 Mitchell High School students ditch school.
Not to hang out with friends or to skip classes, but these students participate in the World of Work program, put on by Mitchell High School.
For more than 20 years, the program — which allows students to work in a profession of interested — has been in existence at MHS. And for the past five years, Mitchell teacher Travis Carpenter said, the program has held a steady interest among MHS students, allowing more than 250 to test a career path before pursuing it after graduation.
And this year is no different, as more than 50 students are spending every other day in the Mitchell community working various jobs from health care to broadcasting, the Daily Republic reported .
This week marks approximately a month since the students have been out and about in their new jobs, which will last through the end of the semester, and for some, the rest of the school year, Carpenter said.
"The idea is they get to check stuff out before they go and spend time and money in college and they can make a decision before they get there," Carpenter said. "If they don't like it, I think that's probably the biggest benefit."
For the first six weeks of the course, Carpenter said students work in the classroom and learn about resumes, cover letters and job exploration. During this time, Carpenter reaches out to Mitchell businesses and organizations for student job placements.
Once placed, students work every other day from noon to 3:15 p.m. as an employee, Carpenter said. The schedule works with the high school's black and gold calendar, meaning some weeks students work Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and other weeks they work Tuesday and Thursday.
Carter Cavanaugh dreams of opening his own business.
And now the 18-year-old Mitchell senior is one step closer as he spends his afternoons working at Sun Gold Sports, a custom printing and sports apparel shop in Mitchell.
"It's definitely refreshing, and better than being in the classroom, for sure. The most enjoyable part for me is there are so many aspects to how a business is ran," Cavanaugh said, adding that he also is allowed to experiment with designs. "I get the whole enchilada."
Cavanaugh started doing "the simpler stuff" such as helping with advertisements and making shirts, is slowly expanding his horizons, he said. And this is typical of many businesses, Carpenter said, adding many employers start the students slow and work them to harder tasks.
But while Cavanaugh is working with printing designs, classmate Sam Edwards finds himself on the radio.
Edwards, 17, works at KORN radio in Mitchell, helping with recordings for news and sports, and also shadowing live broadcasts during area sport events. His goal is to become a sports broadcaster.
"I'm really into sports and stuff like that," Edwards said. "And we can just see if we like the career field or not."
And Edwards, like Cavanaugh, hasn't been strayed yet, both thoroughly enjoying their chosen career fields. Edwards has plans to go to the University of South Dakota in Vermillion or South Dakota State University in Brookings for his post-secondary education. Cavanaugh is also considering USD, and recently the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Other than Sun Gold Sports and KORN, Carpenter said there are numerous other places in town where students are working, including the hospital and police station.
And each is glad to take on a student.
"The employers in Mitchell and business in Mitchell are receptive and pretty awesome to work with," Carpenter said. "To take on a student is a big deal, and they typically do a really good job in showing them what is all entailed in the business and not using them for free workers. They do a great job with our kids."
Information from: The Daily Republic, http://www.mitchellrepublic.com