Watford City High School Hosts Career & Technical Education Program
December 20, 2017 | View PDF
Watford City High School has exciting opportunities for students to receive real-world work experience, while benefitting local employers and the community.
The High School currently offers a Cooperative Work Experience (CWE) program for eligible senior students. The goal of the program is to help students develop skills to prepare for future leadership and career opportunities by pairing classroom learning with real-life work experience. Students apply for employment in one of the Career and Technical Education areas, including agriculture, business/marketing, family and consumer science, and health careers, and work in an actual job position for course credit.
“The program provides a great connection between our school and local businesses,” explained CWE school supervisor Scott Wisness. “It has always been an important program for our school, businesses and community. Many students who were once in the program themselves are now supervisors.” Many students have been able to obtain technical experience and certifications, and otherwise explore a career in ways they wouldn’t be able to with solely classroom learning. Program alumni have earned a pilot license, welding certification, and heavy equipment certifications, among other important training.
Wisness stresses the importance of pairing career and technical education with real-life work experience. “Students benefit by learning what it is like to have a job and to prepare them for their future. In addition to learning the soft skills, they are able to gain technical skills that they didn’t learn while in school,” Wisness says. “They take real responsibility and it provides a great opportunity to get our students ready for the world of work.”
The program is a benefit for local employers as well. “We hear firsthand from employers what skills are needed in the workplace and how we can improve our programs to better prepare our students. This program is a win-win for all involved,” Wisness explained. The program traditionally has had business placements at the courthouse, city, and banks, and this year has placements at local day cares, Heggen Equipment, Ryan Auto & Deisel, and McKenzie Electric, among other local employers. “Our programs really appreciate our businesses and supervisors giving our students such great opportunities,” Wisness said of the partnership. On average, the school has students placed in about 26 positions.
Currently, only senior students with enough credits to graduate and room in their course schedules are eligible, and apply to one of the specific Career and Technical Education areas. Students make initial application in the latter half of their junior year. The student works with a teacher and local business to determine a good placement, and both students and supervisors complete an agreement to ensure a positive experience for all parties. The student then works in the actual business for the full senior term, and receives course credit.
To strengthen and expand both the Career and Technical Education and the CWE programs, the school has added a Career Development Counselor, Rachel Meuchel, to the staff. The school hopes to develop pathways that students can take in high school to prepare them for a specific career. This would start students learning the “soft skills” for their chosen career pathway earlier in their high school years, allowing for more comprehensive classroom training.
“We are currently looking at possible pre-apprenticeship programs for our students to be able to gain more technical skills in their chosen career path and even lead to an actual apprenticeship after high school,” explained Wisness. The school is also looking at potentially providing CDL training and welding classes, and partnering with Williston State College, the University of Mary and TrainND for additional opportunities.
The school will hold a career fair on January 31st at 1:30 CST at the high school for prospective work experience stations. Local employers will have an opportunity to set up a table and visit with prospective CWE program students. Contact Scott Wisness or Rachel Meuchel at Watford City High School with questions about the program or to set up a table at the January career fair.