Suggestions from local businesses and industries will help define the curriculum for a planned new high school system in the Natrona County School District.
School district faculty and professionals from business and industry met last week to discuss how the new system will teach practical career skills along with academic knowledge. Discussion covered the skills students should have when they graduate and sequences of courses needed to reach those goals.
District officials plan to incorporate the business and industry input into the curriculum.
“We actually had industry change our thinking today,” said Kelly Hornby, NCSD executive director of curriculum and instruction.
Students will choose a study focus based in one of four academies that concentrate on possible career areas. They will start early in high school preparing for advanced classes at a shared high school, the Center for Advanced and Professional Studies, that will be built as part of the district’s massive high school construction/renovation project.
But they won’t be locked into their choice; they will be allowed to change their chosen paths, according to Kelly Walsh High School teacher Mark Hileman, one of the faculty leaders in the discussion for the planned high school system.
Courses, assignments and projects will be tailored to the chosen focus, according to district officials.
“Our local artists were saying you have got to include more writing in this sequence of courses,” said Mark Mathern, the district’s associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction, citing one of the suggestions from the business and industry representatives. So writing assignments for students in the Academy of Creative Arts, Communication and Design could include artist biographies, critiques and scripts, he added.
Local photographer Clint Saunders said students could take beginning photo classes at their home schools, then advance to CAPS and use larger equipment. The program could teach practical skills rarely offered in school, like portrait photography.
An idea emerged for a student-run gallery at CAPS, Kelly Walsh art teacher Molly Voris said during a Wednesday meeting.
Students in the Academy of Architecture, Construction, Manufacturing and Engineering could learn to present projects to clients in speech class. The suggestion list also included a 10-hour OSHA class, apprenticeships and certification training.
In the Academy of Health Science and Human Services, students could learn sports medicine and complete college prerequisites for a nursing program, according to Hileman.
The Academy of Business, Agriculture and Natural Resources group penned several ideas, including science classes geared to agriculture and a geographic information systems program, according to Kelly Walsh High School business teacher Duane Reimer.
Reimer hopes the new system will answer age-old student questions about why they must learn algebra, sentence diagramming and the structure of cells.
“We want (them) to be able to say, ‘because this is a skill I need for the career I’ve chosen,’” Reimer said.
The community members and faculty also discussed equipment and tools needed for their plans.
Meetings will continue with teachers and industry professionals to develop curriculum and design schools being built or renovated for the new system, according to district officials.