CTE woodworking

St. Peter career and technical education teacher Warren Peterson instructs during his woodworking class in 2018. The school district is aiming to utilize its new facilities, specifically the high school, to enhance career and technical education offerings. (Kurt Hildebrandt/St. Peter Public Schools)

St. Peter High School is shiny and new, and district leaders want to make sure it’s being utilized to the fullest extent.

The School Board, at its meeting Jan. 6, approved a number of new courses at the high school (and the middle school) for the 2020-21 school year, many of which are aimed at enhancing offerings in the career and technical education field. Classes like Saints Manufacturing and Work-Based Learning are geared toward giving students more hands-on experience in the working world.

It’s a goal for the district to broaden its educational scope and create more pathways for students.

“I think it’s really critical that we have options that prepare our students for, not only jobs on a statewide-regional scope, but also jobs available in our own school district area and community,” said Superintendent Jeff Olson in a December interview.

The Saints Manufacturing course will see students operate their own businesses out of the manufacturing lab. The course will focus on all aspects of today’s manufacturing and construction industries. Students will be responsible for quoting jobs, ordering materials, manufacturing parts, quality control, shipping, receiving, invoicing, customer service, keeping track of hours, maintaining equipment, and everything else it takes to run a business.

“I’m really excited about it,” said Superintendent Jeff Olson. “The idea is to have a student-run business that operates the entire array of things from manufacturing to marketing to quality control. (SPHS Principal Annette) Engeldinger and team have been working hard with potential business partners in the community.”

Engeldinger added, “Not only will the kids have the opportunity for a potential partnership, but also to possibly come up with their own products. And we have new equipment to use, like the plasma cutter. We’re always looking forward to the next thing.”

Another career and technical education addition for 2020-21 is Work-Based Learning. That course will be a structured educational experience that integrates classroom learning (school-based) with productive, structured work experiences (work-based), which are related to a student’s career goal, program of study, and employability skills.

Saints Media Production, while not listed under the career and technical education category at the high schools, falls within the same vein. This course will allow students who have taken Intro to Media Production to build on the skills they have established to create a weekly show that showcases their video production talents.

Beyond the CTE offerings, the Physical Education Department at the high school is putting together the Unified Saints course. This combined general education and adapted physical education class is meant to allow students to improve performance of self and others in recreational and fitness activities. This class is for those students who have an interest in developing meaningful relationships between students with and without disabilities. The purpose is to help spread acceptance and ensure everyone feels included and welcome in their school and community. We will create authentic inclusion activities that change how students interact with one another on a daily basis. Activities will focus on physical, mental and social fitness.

Some new concurrent enrollment options will also be available next school year. Those courses are taught by St. Peter instructors that have college-level credentials. They can be used as credits at many post-secondary institutions. The new ones include Introduction to Music Appreciation, Introduction to Art Appreciation, and Health and the Environment.

More courses are being added in the science department, too. The Science of Minsets and Nutrition, Oceanography, and Physics X and Chemistry X will be available for students in 2020-21.

A change in schedule at the Middle School, meanwhile, is allowing some new courses there, too. In this 2019-20 school year, SPMS implemented a block master schedule. That new schedule makes room for a six-week exploratory course rotations. Students take six six-week courses throughout the school year, exploring different areas.

The first four rotations are core exploratory courses — Art, FACS, Health and STEM. The other two rotations consist of electives the students can choose from, each relating to the core courses. In 2019-20, sculpture is the art elective, foods around the world is the FACS elective, First Aid/CPR Certification and Health Careers is the Health Elective, and Design and Production is the STEM elective.

In 2020-21, the elective exploratory courses will switch to Art and Culture as the art elective, Food Art and Techniques as the FACS elective, Mental Health/Mindfulness as the health elective, and Environmental Technologies as the STEM elective.

Reach Editor Philip Weyhe at 507-931-8567 or follow him on Twitter @EditorPhilipWeyhe. ©Copyright 2019 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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