Outside the traditional four-year college | VailDaily.com

Outside the traditional four-year college

Cindy Ramunno
Bret Hartman/Vail DailyCody Bright, 17, Linzy Capdeboscq, 16, Jessica Nevin, 16, and Mary Cochrane, 17, work in Eric Mandeville's U.S. history class Wednesday in Eagle.

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a three-part series on the Eagle County School District’s high school programs. This week’s focus is vocational education. Next week, look for information on extra-curricular activities.

EAGLE COUNTY ” Thinking beyond high school is a recurring theme at Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley and Red Canyon high schools.

The valley’s public high schools offer a multitude of class choices for students who want to experience different vocations. In fact, choices for elective courses don’t look like they did five or 10 years ago.

Local educators are using that time to broaden horizons and give students a jump on a career. A path may clear for a student’s desired journey, or a student may realize that his or her idea of the ‘dream job’ is actually a nightmare. Either way, today’s students are learning more about careers ” and themselves.

For instance, Red Canyon’s approach is individual. Staff members help students identify their interests and strengths, and then work on a plan to get into a desired career. Some of those students even begin implementing plans before graduation.

Among the courses offered by Battle Mountain’s business department are computer applications and advanced computer applications, Web page design, accounting, business law, introduction to Java, and advanced computer science.

In consumer and family Studies at the school, courses include critical skills, which is recommended for all sophomores. During this class, students are taught skills needed for success in the worlds of work, school, home and society in general. Career exploration and interpersonal relationships are areas of study.

Also offered is food and nutrition and a class called “ProStart.” ProStart courses are a school-to-career program that combines school and work in the culinary arts.

Other school-to-career options for juniors and seniors at Battle Mountain include introduction to the workplace, supervised work study, technology explorations, communication technology, woodworking, mechanical drafting and architectural drafting.

The Husky Cabinet Company course requires students to take woodworking, and also gives teaches students about running a small business. Students also have the opportunity to take video productions courses.

Eagle Valley High offers similar courses along with a freshman seminar that teaches “Seven Steps for Highly Effective Teens.” Other classes are auto shop, horticulture, broadcasting, computer drafting and architectural engineering.

The business department offers introduction to business, personal finance, accounting, and marketing. The school also has advanced art and community service courses.

“We have the largest number of students enrolled in elective courses and advanced placement courses ever,” Principal Mark Strakbein said. “Teachers are creating classes that offer futures in career choices or major choices for colleges.”

The school’s business teacher, Chad Sloniker, also runs the school’s Future Business Leaders of America club.

“Offering more classes to students allows them to be exposed to a variety of opportunities available to them,” Sloniker said. “They are able to make more informed choices on what they want to have as a major in college and what they want to be when they grow up.”

Students are lining up to take the courses. In one course, called “EV Enterprises,” students had to sell stocks, create a product to sell (they made sweatpants), and then sell and order the product.

“It was a smash. We sold a ton of them,” Sloniker said. “Kids love running the business and both students and staff love purchasing stock with hopes dividend returns.”

The teacher’s excitement was contagious. FirstBank sent volunteers to help with the venture.

“Business is everywhere, including our personal lives. Knowing the different aspects of business will help students make the best choices so that they are successful in all they do,” Sloniker said.

Vail, Colorado

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