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For Immediate Release - May 19, 1999
Contact: Anastasia Burton, Press Secretary (406) 444-5523

Five Montana Communities Recognized for School-to-Work Excellence

The Governorís Awards for School-to-Work Excellence in Montana were awarded on April 20, 1999 during the Reach for the Stars Career Conference in Helena, jointly sponsored by the Montana School-to-Work Career Opportunities System, the Office of the Governor, and the Montana State Occupational Information Coordinating Committee (SOICC).

Governor Marc Racicot and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Nancy Keenan presented the awards to five communities, all of which have created new opportunities for their students to prepare for and identify future career options. Each of the five communities received a plaque to be displayed within their local schools.

The five award winning communities were: Helena, Rapelje, Polson, Anaconda, and Savage.

Twenty-one communities were nominated for the awards by the Office of Public Instruction. The five chosen communities were selected by a panel of three reviewers who have diverse backgrounds in establishing and implementing career and vocational education programs.

Vicki Bostick, a Missoula parent who served as a reviewer, said: "You cannot read about these efforts without being inspired to do something similar in your own community. Kids who donít have these opportunities are missing out on something really good."

A pamphlet describing the various activities taking place in the five award-winning communities will soon be distributed to school districts and School-to-Work partnerships throughout Montana.

Each of the five awards was given in recognition of an outstanding component within a communityís School-to-Work efforts. The Helena School-to-Work System was recognized as the Outstanding School-to-Work Partnership, based on its widespread inclusion of multiple business, education, and labor partners. Over 65 partners have committed to participating in Helenaís School-to-Work efforts, leading to numerous local opportunities for students and teachers.

Rapelje School-to-Work was recognized for providing Outstanding Career Development Opportunities. Over the past several years, Rapelje has made career planning and information a critical component of its 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, career day activities, and classroom work. Finally, high school students are provided with the opportunity to have work-based experiences at local businesses and organizations, in an occupational area which interests them.

The Polson School-to-Work Partnership was recognized for Outstanding Curricular Integration of Occupational Content. In recent years, Polson High School has implemented career guidance activities into the regular curricula offerings of its English classes. As a result, students develop their own "GET A LIFE" portfolios, which are compilations of writing samples, resumes, and other career relevant documents.

School-to-Work Anacondaís Project (S.W.A.P.) was recognized for Outstanding Employer Involvement. During the past year, 115 Anaconda students were placed within a variety of work-based learning experiences. The placements have included: local government, schools, tire shops, veterinary clinics, retail stores, a travel agency, convenience stores, insurance companies, the local hospital, and the state hospital.

The Savage School-to-Work System was recognized for its Outstanding Connecting Activities which link students to career and educational paths after high school. Several opportunities exist for students to gain work-based experience through their regular academic course offerings in both academic and vocational classrooms. Through these experiences, students are able to develop expertise which is attractive to potential employers and post-secondary institutions. In addition, students have the ability to gain community college credit for a variety of classes taken at the high school level.

Montanaís 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 $1.3 million in federal grants to local School-to-Work partnerships throughout Montana during the 1998-1999 school year.


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