• Open House is a Hit

    Elizabeth community shows up to learn about career-prep opportunities

    A crowd of people works its way through booths in the EHS gym

    Three photos of people standing at food trucks

    Elizabeth High School was bustling inside and out on Thursday, Sept. 30, as the Homegrown Talent Initiative open house drew a crowd. 

    With lines at the five food trucks parked in front of the school as well as at tables of multiple presenters inside the gym, the community clearly was interested in learning about workplace education, character development and career exploration programs at every school level.

    Veterinarian speaks with visitors at her table


    Two seniors, Gracie Bohler and Masen Loeks, had a table to share their internship experiences. Check out the video below to hear more about their perspective. 

    Dr. Jesha Marcy-Quay represented Iron Horse Equine, which is currently hosting Masen and three other interns from EHS. “We really like having them,” she enthused. “They ask great questions. They really add to our practice, and our clients really like having them along and helping educate and further a future.”

    The interns experience every facet of veterinary practice, from routine care all the way to high-quality sports medicine, diagnostics, and even emergency medicine.

    “Part of what I think this program is about is finding things that you may or may not like to do. If they come and say ‘This really isn’t for me,’ I’m OK with that,” Marcy-Quay said. “I’d rather they do that than not have spent time doing it, and suddenly come around and be like ‘Oh, gosh, I spent years thinking I wanted to do this, and I’m this far into school and I don’t.’ 

    “Find out now.”

  • Career Exploration

    Another important aspect is preparing younger students to think about life after high school. A critical aspect added at EHS this year is called Cardinal Ground School.

    The ninth-grade class is divided among five educators who all teach the same career prep curriculum -- with a new theme each week. Science teacher Lilyann Lambert is one of those five teachers and was on site at the open house to speak with students and parents about Cardinal Ground School. 

    She explained that the main focus is helping students learn what it takes to be a good employee “so they’re more prepared for life after high school, whether it’s going to college or whether it’s going into the workforce.

    Each week’s focus is on different hard skills and soft skills, including good communication, dressing appropriately for a particular job, career aptitude tests, coping with conflict, knowing one’s own personality, setting oneself apart, networking, public speaking, different types of work, workplace etiquette and more.

    A Pickens Technical College rep speaks with a family

    Workforce Training During and After High School

    Several post-secondary institutions were represented as well, including some that focus on workforce readiness. 

    Jenise Rosa of Pickens Technical College and Brian Treesh of Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology each had lines of students and parents for the entire evening. They explained how students with a variety of aptitudes can find a career path that fits them. Students can acquire state-of-the-art skills and important work habits that will help them succeed in the workforce.


  • Making career connections

    Elizabeth School District’s effort to promote homegrown talent spans from kindergarten through graduation

    Administrators and teachers from all levels of Elizabeth School District provided updates on the Homegrown Talent Initiative to the Board of Education during its Aug. 23 meeting.

    Over the course of an hour, board members learned how widespread and interwoven HTI has become in every school. HTI is a partnership between the school district and business community aimed at improving career-connected learning so students have a clearer picture of what’s possible for them after graduation, whether they want to go to college or begin a career in the local job market right away.

    Profile of a Graduate

    Core to HTI is the Profile of a Graduate, which says the school district will, from kindergarten through graduation, provide opportunities for students to develop seven characteristics that will help them thrive at any stage of life – well beyond their time in school.

    The seven competencies on which the district is focused are also ways to describe each graduate:

    • Leader.
    • Empathetic and collaborative.
    • Adaptable and resilient.
    • Effective communicator.
    • Independent learner.
    • Academically prepared.
    • Entrepreneurial.

    From elementary school through high school, there are different ways those characteristics are taught and encouraged, in age-relevant ways.

    Elizabeth High school

    The competencies of the graduate profile become fully realized as high school students participate in internships and other career learning opportunities.

    At EHS, there are currently 66 students taking literature courses for college credit via concurrent enrollment taught by Elizabeth teachers. Ten students are taking a business class at EHS, and 14 students are taking community college classes online or on the Arapahoe Community College campus in art, literature, psychology and math.

    Several students are receiving workforce opportunities as well, 25 of them – the biggest group – in welding and automotive. Meanwhile other students are taking classes in which they can receive official certification for Adobe software usage, cybersecurity and certified nursing assistant training. Students gain skills that could land them employment right out of high school.

    Students who take concurrent enrollment classes in composition and literature at EHS could start college with as many as 12 credits – a full semester’s worth – thanks to partnerships with ACC. Likewise, certain business classes offered here are tailored to have the same curriculum, quizzes and tests as what first-year students at Metro State University receive on campus.

    All of that work feeds into the idea of giving EHS students the opportunities to choose specific career pathways to prepare them for life after high school. Pathways provide defined lists and groupings of classes that can best set students up for success whether they choose pathways that offer direct employment after graduation or pathways that require further training in college.

    EHS’ new Certifed Nursing Assistant training program will launch at the beginning of the second semester. Interviews for a program director are set to begin soon, and a standalone modular building will be placed on the grounds of EHS later this fall.

    Elizabeth Middle School

    The approach at Elizabeth Middle School is to use the graduate-profile competencies to help students discover and explore their passions. As students move to middle school, they gain many more options for elective courses, clubs and athletics.

    The middle school’s HTI team plans to test a wide array of tools and resources, gather data from the classes where they used them and, for those that perform well, make them available to the full staff. As they continue to develop lessons and resources, student feedback will be crucial, especially as their work translates to high school connections.

    The staff plans to connect with local professionals and bring in high school interns to speak with eighth graders to help with that progression.

    Singing Hills Elementary School

    Singing Hills Elementary is adapting established programs including PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) and “The 7 Habits of Happy Kids” to the new HTI concepts, which will be called the Coyote Competencies at Singing Hills, based on the school’s mascot.

    The words used in the Profile of a Graduate are too big for younger children, but that does not mean they can’t be introduced to the concept and start becoming familiar with the words and icons – especially if there is going to be follow-through at every rising grade level.

    The school’s HTI team identified age-relevant books and built resource lists that can be used to help explain the concepts.

    Each month, the school will host student assemblies to introduce a new Coyote Competency.

    The final one for this school year will be “Entrepreneurial,” which will coincide with plans to launch an Entrepreneurial Fair, an event where adults will be invited to provide students with glimpses of the kinds of career paths that are out there.

    Running Creek Elementary School

    The Profile of a Graduate now integrates with Running Creek Elementary curriculum as well. The school also used PBIS, the 7 Habits, the Profile of a Graduate as well as Leader In Me curriculum, which addresses social-emotional needs, college and career readiness and leadership development.

    The school’s HTI team met over the summer to decide how to integrate all of these concepts and chose to move away from the school’s PBIS acronym and focus on the Leader In Me concepts, with Profile of a Graduate ideals supplementing them.

    The team developed resources to show how the terms and concepts work together. For instance, Leader In Me Habit 8 is “Find your voice,” which matches the “Leader” competency in the Profile of a Graduate, and the way the Running Creek staff can explain these to students is: “I found something I am good at and really like doing. I am proud but do not boast. Instead, I use my expertise to help and inspire others.”

    Students aren’t expected to show mastery of the concepts – just an understanding that can be built upon as they continue to learn and grow through the district.

    What’s next

    The entire community is invited to learn more – and buy dinner and dessert from an assortment of food trucks – from 5-7 p.m., Sept. 30, when the HTI Open House will take place at the high school.

    Dozens of booths with presenters from elementary through high school, local businesses, area post-secondary institutions and more will make it possible for visitors to learn about HTI from the perspective of students, parents and local business owners. Much of this work is done in collaboration with businesses and organizations in Elizabeth and the surrounding area.

    This will be a prime opportunity not only to engage with the school community but also to learn about the career and competency development programs that have been taking place and will continue to grow to help students better prepare for their futures.

    Along with the food, music from the EHS band, and engaging conversations, visitors will have the chance to learn about HTI efforts to provide:

    • Character-building activities K-12.
      Career-exploration opportunities.
      Real-world experiences with local employers.
      Classes that earn college credit.
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