HOLMEN, Wis. -
Wisconsin school districts are working to help prepare students for life after high school by offering a wider variety of elective classes.
“I think that the pendulum is going back towards the use of youth apprenticeships with businesses again,” said Holmen High School Principal Robert Baer.
The hope is students may be able to discover a potential career path at an earlier age.
“Twenty-five years ago, you had your core classes, and maybe you had a shop class, maybe an art class, maybe, it was home ec back then,” said Tim Bakeberg, Holmen High School counselor.
But in the past six years, the Holmen High School principal says they've really started to expand their course offerings.
“We offer a large variety of classes for kids in the career and tech-ed area,” said Baer. “Everything from marketing to computer aided drafting to automotive to welding, agri-science courses, landscaping courses.”
“Overall we have so many different options within this building, and then, through some real creative programs, we can get kids out of this building taking college classes through youth options,” said Bakeberg. “We have youth apprenticeships where students can go out and work and gain real on-the-job experience.”
One student says taking advantage of electives is helping to prepare him for his future career.
“I thought I knew quite a bit about Greenhouse, and then doing that class was like, 'Wow. I did not know that,'” said Zack Peterson, Holmen High School senior. “And then now I can apply that to my job, hopefully, in a career.”
When students, like Peterson, know what they want to do after high school before they graduate, it can be a real cost savings.
“If a student leaves here and they still don't know what they want to be when they grow up, 20 years ago you could explore your first two years of college, three years of college and not be out a whole lot of money,” said Bakeberg. “If you explore two to three years now, you're $50,000 to $60,000 in debt. So the stakes have gotten higher.”
So the message is: Don't pass up on any opportunities.
“If you have time, take an elective,” said Peterson. “Don't take a study hall. It's not really going to really help you out in the long run.”
“What I tell students when I go into classrooms and we talk electives is once they cross the stage and we hand the diploma to them, the days of free education is over,” said Bakeberg. “And they will have to start paying for those opportunities to educate themselves.”
The Holmen High School principal says currently, family and consumer ed, automotive, cabinet making and welding are some of their most popular elective classes.
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