Programs Enrich Learning

Programs Enrich Learning
Posted on 02/06/2024
Seven choir students smile at camera while holding black folders in the choir room.When walking on the second floor of Harrison Preparatory School, visitors are often greeted by the loud singing coming from Ryan Harris’s choir class. The sound of music echoes through the halls as students prepare for performances and competitions.

That sound represents a key part of the high school experience. Clubs, extracurricular activities and elective courses enrich the student experience. At each CPSD high school, students have opportunities to explore their interests, consider future careers and grow as leaders and scholars.

Developing Leaders & Innovators

While his classmates around him bake cookies, make drinks and sell snacks, Lakes High School student Caleb Griffin has an idea. He approaches Lakes business and marketing teacher Randy Wilson and asks if it makes sense to offer a two-for-one sale on lollipops.

The Lakes student store is a place where students can develop their business sense and make real world decisions about the products they sell to their classmates. Griffin’s candy sale idea was approved and the lollipops flew off the shelves. The student store is just one piece of the larger Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) program at Lakes. DECA is a student organization established to prepare student leaders in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Students use knowledge and problem-solving skills to work through business-like scenarios.

Not all DECA students work in the student store, but each of them grapples with the different challenges that come up during the business day. The Lakes DECA program also screen prints T-shirts and other apparel and engraves messages on mugs or other glass and ceramic items.

For a lot of students, the big draw to DECA is the competitions. Students participate in regional, state and national events to demonstrate their knowledge in all areas of business and marketing. Competitions often ask students to create business plans and take tests to show they know their subject area well. In the end, students gain leadership skills, abilities and knowledge they can apply as an employee or business owner in the future.

"It really gives you a real picture into the whole business world,” said Lakes senior Joshua Young. “I’m confident that my time in DECA has helped me get to the point where I can walk into the store, operate a register and perform other duties without much help.”

Leading Through Song

Last spring, the Harrison Preparatory School chamber choir traveled to Pasco, Wash., to perform in the Columbia Basin College Jazz Unlimited music festival. They joined more than 4,000 students from Washington, Idaho and Oregon to compete, attend clinics and hear from special guests.

Harrison Prep earned second place in the competition. While the lofty finish was impressive, it left members of the choir yearning for more.

“Our set is a lot more advanced than last year,” said senior Jillian Burlingame. “We’re working hard to learn the songs, and we are going to perform them better than anyone else when we go back to Pasco this year.”

The drive to be the best is common among the choir’s members. Harrison Prep does not have a band or orchestra like the district’s two other high schools, so the choir is the only music performing club at the school. Their music rings through the halls at assemblies, graduation and other big events each year.

While choir director Ryan Harris appreciates his students’ ambition, he’s just happy to watch them grow as musicians and teammates throughout the school year.

“I’ve taught long enough to know that most of my program graduates will not go on to be professional musicians,” said Harris, who is in his 11th year teaching choir at Harrison Prep. “Choir is a group activity, so it teaches them to be responsible to each other and to be something bigger than themselves.”

Harris is developing future leaders through their love of music. One way he elevates students is through his assistant conductor program. Each year, students apply to be an assistant conductor for the next year’s choir.

Student conductors choose the musical pieces the choir performs, and they conduct the performance themselves. Harris works directly with the assistant conductors to help them excel in this role and to build their confidence.

“This class gets the best out of me,” said Harrison Prep sophomore and assistant conductor Keilan McCool. “I really enjoy having the opportunity to make the choir and all of my classmates better.”

Growing Future Teachers

At Clover Park High School (CPHS), some students are turning the tables on education. Students enrolled in the school’s Careers in Education career pathway aren’t just learners, they’re potential future educators, gaining real world teaching experience by being paired with elementary school classrooms.

The Careers in Education pathway is a three course series that helps students explore education as a career path and gives them first-hand teaching experience.

“It’s a great opportunity to explore something they may be interested in for their career,” said CPHS Careers in Education teacher Trina Chambers. “But it’s also a chance for us to try and grow educators within our own community who will hopefully stay here and teach the next generations.”

Currently, the education field needs new teachers, especially for early learning programs. Giving students the chance to explore education as part of their future pushes them onto a career path greatly in need of their services.

Students can also earn college credit through the program. Those who complete the three-course series can earn as many as 15 college credits that can be applied to teaching courses at state community colleges and are accepted by many state universities in Washington.

Much of the coursework students complete is about the process of teaching and what is required to be an effective educator. However, once that groundwork has been laid, students get out of their high school classroom and put what they’ve learned to the test in one of the district’s local elementary schools.

During the program, students intern in an elementary classroom twice a week, acting similarly to a student teacher by working with the classroom teacher and teaching students directly.

“They learn leadership skills, cooperation and teamwork, and I’ve noticed they really take pride in the relationships they build with the elementary students,” Chambers said. “It also benefits the elementary students because they see the high schoolers as role models and up to them.”

Lakes High School also offers the Careers in Education pathway.