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For Immediate Release - September 13, 2000
Anastasia Burton
Press Secretary
Erik Burke
Education Policy Advisor
(406) 444-3111

Six Communities to be Recognized for School-to-Work Excellence

(HELENA)---On September 15, Governor Marc Racicot and state deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Cooper will present the 2000-2001 Governor's Awards for School-to-Work Excellence in Montana. The awards will be presented to six communities, all of which have created new opportunities for their students to prepare for and identify future career options. The reception will begin at 11:00 am in the Governor's Office.

The six award winning communities are: Plentywood, Frenchtown, Kalispell, Fairview, Judith Gap, and Lewistown.

The Office of Public Instruction nominated 15 communities for the awards. A panel of three reviewers who have diverse backgrounds in establishing and implementing career and vocational education programs selected the six chosen communities. Joe Brott, Superintendent of Powell County High School in Deer Lodge, who served as a reviewer, said, "These communities have all made positive differences in the lives of kids. They've made learning exciting and they've made learning relevant. That's what School-to-Work is all about. I hope that more Montana schools will take a look at what's going on in these communities and provide similar opportunities for their kids."

Each of the six awards is given in recognition of an outstanding component within a community's School-to-Work efforts.

The Plentywood School/Career Partnership will be recognized as the Outstanding School-to-Work Partnership, based on its widespread inclusion of multiple business, education, and labor partners. Recent efforts to provide job shadowing opportunities in neighboring cities, along with a multitude of local partnering efforts, have allowed all K-12 classes in Plentywood to include a career exploration component.

Frenchtown School-to-Life will be recognized for providing Outstanding Career Development Opportunities. Over the past several years, Frenchtown has made career planning and information a critical component of their regular curriculum for all elementary and secondary students. Elementary students participate in career awareness and job shadowing experiences. Middle school students go through a program of career exploration, consisting of testing, computer assisted career planning, portfolio collection, and classroom work. Finally, high school students take a life management course that helps them to learn about career and life opportunities and prepares them to make informed decisions about their futures.

The Kalispell School-to-Work System will be recognized for Outstanding Curricular Integration of Occupational Content. In recent years, Kalispell High School has implemented career guidance activities into the curricula offerings within math, science, and vocational courses. As a result, students develop relevant work skills in addition to outstanding academic preparation.

Fairview School-to-Work will be recognized for Outstanding Employer Involvement. During the past year, businesses have provided numerous job shadowing and work based learning experiences for students. The Fairview Bank sponsors a comprehensive money management program that impacts every local 6th, 7th and 8th grade student. This program builds student awareness of personal finance strategies, while also building behavior and work skills necessary for future career success.

The Judith Gap School-to-Work Partnership will be recognized for its Outstanding Connecting Activities that link students to career and educational paths after high school. In Judith Gap, the superintendent and school counselor meet with each student in grades 7-12 to discuss career options, college or vocational education plans, and courses necessary for graduation. A career portfolio requirement also exists for these students and will be extended to 5th grade students during the 2000-2001 school year.

Fergus High School School-to-Work will be recognized for its Outstanding Efforts to Serve Special Populations. All special needs students at Fergus High School are assisted with their transitions from school to the workplace. Students are linked with employers in the community and are able to visit work settings during the school day. Each of the partnering employers spends time training the students to perform specific tasks. As a result of the training, several special needs students have been hired on a part-time or full-time basis after graduation.

Montana's School-to-Work Career Opportunities System is a partnership of state agencies and organizations which is working to help students gain employment skills and career awareness while still in school. The system provided over $3.4 million in federal grants to local School-to-Work partnerships throughout Montana during the 1999-2000 school year.


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