Salute Our Heroes: Washburn Rural HS learning real-life skills with CTE

Salute Our Heroes: Washburn Rural HS learning real-life skills with CTE
Published: Feb. 26, 2022 at 2:21 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2022 at 7:10 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Students at Washburn Rural High School work at The Shack, Common Grounds coffee shop, and the bank in the school’s cafeteria learning real-world skills as part of the Career and Technical Education pathways.

Business Teacher Kim Sommers leads the way for the shack as sophomores learn their roles with senior leadership.

“I love to see the little successes, the accomplishments they’ve made and then in turn what they do is they take on a management role and then they get to help train,” she said.

Senior Trenna Whitmore said the class helps her focus on becoming an entrepreneur.

“It’s really helped me in seeing all aspects of business that you wouldn’t see if you were just the customer. It gives you the inside look,” she said. “It brings people together who might not work with each other outside of the class so it gives you, like, working with all kinds of people doing all different types of stuff.”

Junior Cole Hughes says he found out about the chance to learn this new way from his freshman mentor who was a manager of the shack at the time.

“I’m not sure 100% what I’ll do after high school but I think that the things that you learn through CTE are super practical and useful and definitely think that it was a good choice to go through the program,” he said.

Sommers says it’s okay if the students don’t pursue business following high school.

That they’re getting a vast amount of experience to improve everyday uses -- like communication skills, customer service, and cash handling.

“A lot of students that go to school are in sports and so sometimes they don’t have the opportunity to get a job outside of school, this gives them the opportunity to get that experience moving forward,” said Sommers.

The students work with high school, middle school, and elementary school sports and clubs. Outside organizations have reached out to them.

“Whether it’s the coach, the sponsor, or the club. Ask them what are their interests, what do they want their design to be like. They help with the choice in that aspect. Then their responsibility from that is to contact multiple vendors. They have to find the best price because we obviously want to make it affordable,” said Sommers.

The doors close after lunch -- when they open, it’s an opportunity to learn a new skill.

“The students of course are learning a lot of behind-the-scenes things but then they also have the opportunity to talk to real customers, talk to vendors and follow through with real-life situations,” said Sommers.

February is CTE Month. CTE Month is a public awareness campaign that takes place each February to celebrate the value and achievements of CTE programs across the country.

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