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The Kentucky Department of Education is asking school districts to take on a mission of preparing students for college and careers. Local districts have chosen to accept the challenge.
The education department and Gov. Steve Beshear declared this week as Operation Preparation College and Career Advising Week. School districts are encouraged to schedule meetings with community advisers, eighth-graders and 10th-graders to discuss college and career plans. The districts also will review whether students are on track to meet their goals and prepare for life after high school.
The districts are implementing the program in their own ways.
Elizabethtown High School held Power Pact, a program that started more than a decade ago that is in line with the mission of Operation Preparation. Hardin County Educational and Community Television, part of Hardin County Schools, has been filming interviews with local residents in a variety of professions for students who are interested in those particular careers.
Lisa Gross, director of the education department’s division of communication and community engagement, said Commissioner Terry Holliday wanted to bring mentors into schools, as well as lighten the workloads of guidance counselors. The statewide student-to-counselor ratio is about 450 to 1, according to an education department news release.
The program should “spread that out a little bit,” Gross said, and “give kids some real-world experiences.”
Gross said the department supports variations in how districts approach the program.
At Elizabethtown High, Power Pact started 12 years ago with a grant and has continued with Kentucky Utilities as a sponsor.
Students and parents schedule an appointment with a teacher to discuss the student’s four-year plan in high school.
They also can learn about college financial aid from the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority and incoming freshmen receive tours of the high school. Colleges and community organizations set up informational booths.
This year’s Power Pact was March 2.
Bonnie Young, school-community liaison and school technology coordinator, plans the event every year. Young said the school administration’s main goal is to let all students know about opportunities.
Participants look forward to it every year, she said.
“It was just so successful, we can’t imagine not having it, ever,” she said.
HCS Superintendent Nannette Johnston said schools often bring in speakers to discuss their careers, but for this program, they decided on a video format. With three high schools spread across the community, it was more convenient for business professionals.
“We felt like it was the best way to handle it,” Johnston said.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.