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GBHS students learn on the job
Work-based learning is statewide effort
Great Bend High School juniors who are seeking internships with local businesses during their senior year attended a “reverse job fair” on April 27 at the Great Bend Events Center. From left: Ellis Long, Brantley Schaffer, Jaydon Davis, Hailey Peterson, Sage Simon, Brynn Miller, Kennedy Sandy, Kadynce Jean, Guadalupe Cruz and Bradley Hopkins.

When high school students are asked to express a career interest, 20% pick “professional athlete,” said Lacy Wolters, the Career/ACT coordinator at Great Bend High School.

Of all the careers that students can save in the school’s career software to further explore, professional athlete was listed as one of the top five among students who saved careers.

Realistically, most high school students do not go on the become professional athletes. With that in mind, students in Kansas are receiving more exposure to career awareness, exploration, and specific job-preparation opportunities. It’s called the Work-Based Learning Continuum (WBL) and it starts long before high school.

“What we’re finding is our students need more exposure, earlier on,” Wolters said.

At the elementary level, career awareness experiences may include guest speakers, career fairs, field trips and tours.

By middle school, career exploration begins. It may include job shadows, mock interviews and career mentoring.

By the time students are in high school that should have an area of interest, Wolters said.

At the high school level, career preparation experiences are added. Elective classes can be structured into clusters that represent career pathways to college and career readiness. These lead students through an introductory course in an area of interest, a technical-level course where the student learns some basic skills, and an application level that allows the student to experience the career.

Job shadowing at GBHS is not new, and in February the school board approved the GBHS Internship Program, as well as an apprenticeship program. Fourteen juniors who are on track to graduate next year submitted applications to business partners such as the Great Bend Tribune, Comfort Pro, Stueder Contractors, Animal Medical Center, Adams Brown, the Dream Center, Barton County Historical Society, Great Bend Industries and others. Nine students were interviewed by the University of Kansas Health System in Great Bend.

“We’re really excited to start offering these internships to our students,” Wolters said. “It’s a really good learning experience.”

During the Job Seeker Summit held last month at the Great Bend Events Center, several GBHS students attended the “reverse job fair.” The students dressed for job interviews, created trifold displays about themselves and brought their resumes for potential employers.

Lacy Wolters, Career/ACT coordinator at Great Bend High School, talks about work-based learning in USD 428 at Wednesday’s Kiwanis Club meeting.