BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – A program underway in Lee County is giving students an inside look at the body of work that awaits them after graduation.
Going on it’s fourth year, the 12-plus program was created by the Lee County Economic Development Group as a springboard for area high school students to help give them insight into lifeskills needed entering the workforce.
Students at Keokuk, Central Lee, and Fort Madison High School can enroll in the class as part of their first semester registrations.
LCEDGE Communication and Marketing Specialist, Dana Millard, said the curriculum is set by the economic development group with the input from area employers and continues to grow year by year.
“I’m really excited about this upcoming class,” she said Friday. “We’ve had industry leaders asking about how they can become more involved with the class, and we’re happy to get the word about what is going on.
Students and parents who are interested in more information about the class should contact their school’s counselor’s or Millard herself at email@example.com. Most students are registering for classes this upcoming week.
“The class is run by LCEDG so we have the class run from Aug. 26 to Christmas break in December. The students get high school credit as an elective for the graduation. Many of the schools give them two credits due to the work involved in it,” Millard said.
The class, over the past three years, has ranged in size from 20 to 25 students, and is an employability class for students designed by local industry and focuses on what students need to know to get a high quality career.
Class time is dedicated to a variety of skills such as presentation skills, money management, basic workplace safety, resume building and interviewing skills.
Students also take part in tours of local employer facilities and get to take on a team project focused on a real-world problem.
Millard said in previous years projects have included helping make workspace more efficient for an employee at Climax Molybdenum, and puzzling together several different 3-D printed images to create a tool used at the ConAgra facility.
Millard said the student teams had to present to each of the company’s committees describing how the project could help the companies.
“It’s the most helpful class I’ve ever had the chance to take in my entire high school experience. It was amazing.” said Bryan Baker of Keokuk High School.
“The class actually taught me a lot and I genuinely enjoyed it. The interviewing skills is something you’ll need throughout your life,” said David Kramer of Central Lee High School.
Millard said the program is already paying dividends for those that participate.
“The 12 Plus class brings the subjects you’ve learned in school and shows you how you will apply it,” she said. “I’m excited to see some of our graduates get high paying jobs, develop mentors and grow their skills as a direct result of the connections and experiences they made in this class.”