The La Salle-Peru High School’s Area Career Center and the Starved Rock Associates for Vocational and Technical Education conducted a Summer Showcase this week to give local middle schoolers a chance to view what programs the organizations have to offer.
The event was funded through the SRAVTE Office with the use of the Federal Carl Perkins Grant and the State of Illinois Career and Technical Education Grant.
The students in attendance were able to see as many as four of the seven different trades/occupations the event was able to showcase. The seven occupations covered included carpentry, electrical wiring, machining, cad/engineering, computer programming, fire science and graphic design.
The event ran four days this week with two separate three-hour sessions on each day. Students were able to choose morning or afternoon classes with some students electing to do both.
Students from 17 different middle schools in La Salle, Bureau, Putnam and Marshall counties participated. Schools spanned from Princeton to Seneca and Mendota to Henry-Senachwine.
Director of ACC and SRAVTE Dwayne Mentgen said the event is beneficial for many students in the area.
“It exposes students to the trades at the beginning of understanding that there are many opportunities for them to make a living and that these classes and programs can enhance their learning while in school,” Mentgen said.
Mentgen mentioned it’s valuable to continue to show the students these programs are available and events like these can show children hands-on learning is both beneficial and enjoyable.
This event also showcased that non-traditional students, those that represent under 25% of an occupations workforce, can thrive given the opportunity. This year’s Summer Showcase was able to reach 30% participations by girl, which surpassed the goal the federal government sets as a benchmark.
“This is my fifth year as Director of SRAVTE and of the Area Career Center and I am still crestfallen when a local resident tells me that they never knew these programs existed,” Mentgen said.
The partnership between the ACC and SRAVTE is natural as they both share the same mission of promoting Career and Technical Education in the schools. SRAVTE provides the funding while ACC is able to provide the human resources and skill sets.
This is technically the second year the event has been able to come together as two years ago they held a one-class workshop for 15 students in the topic of carpentry.
This year the organizations polled the teachers and were able to expand the amount of classes offered to seven and were able to provide them to 57 participants.
Moving forward the organizations would love to continue to expand the event or more programs as this year they are under renovations so auto, child car and culinary were unable to participate.
Mentgen was encouraged by the students participating and wants to continue to look for expansion in the future.
“We would like to include partners like the labor unions and local businesses so that students are exposed to the practitioners of what they are learning,” Mentgen said. “It has given us impetus to further expand for next year.”
Putting together an event like this was not a one-man show as it took large contributions from others such as Special Populations Coordinator Jeanette Maurice, La Salle-Peru High Superintendent Steven Wrobleski and many other administrators and teachers that were responsible for the success of the Summer Showcase.