By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN A partnership between Delano Public Schools, the City of Delano, and the Delano Area Chamber of Commerce will be in full force with the first-ever SciTech showcase Thursday, April 10 from noon until 8 p.m. at the Tiger Activity Center.
SciTech is a week-long event that also provides the opportunity to visit some of Delano’s local businesses and get a first-hand look at operations and employment opportunities.
Delano High School Principal Dr. Steven Heil said that there are tours set up Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday during SciTech week April 7-11).
Follow the link from the Delano Herald Journal homepage for the current tours and for additional tours as they are being scheduled.
Understanding the business community
Heil said one fact that all communities have in common is that, in general, the local schools do not know what the local businesses do or need and vice versa.
All one has to do is listen to or read about College and Career Readiness as one major item news stations are reporting about.
“Minnesota has produced a new statute, ‘World’s Best Workforce,’ that require all public schools to be college and career ready,” Heil said.
SciTech takes this requirement to a higher level because it is a collaboration of the school district and local businesses.
“We are looking at what each other requires and aligning school curriculum to current and future workforce needs,” Heil said. “It also has the collaboration between business and higher education to build stronger ties to the degree programs that our local businesses hire from.”
A look into Delano Public Schools
Looking at the Delano high schools data, 75 percent of its students test within the top half of Minnesota on state assessments, Heil said.
On the ACT and SAT, Delano High School students average within the top 20 percent of the nation.
“This indicates we produce graduates that are, on average college and career ready,” Heil said.
Looking at graduate and degree data, which Heil obtained from the college board, in 2003, 67 percent of the graduating class was enrolled in college (two-year and four-year) at the end of the first year of college, 2004 was 70 percent, 2005 was 74 percent, 2006 was 68 percent, 2007 was 76 percent, 2008 was 78 percent, 2009 was 90 percent, 2010 was 81 percent, 2011 was 78 percent, with data for more recent years expected soon.
Looking at degree attainment, Heil said Delano sees that, at six years from graduation, 59 percent (2003), 50 percent (2004), 49 percent (2005), 48 percent (2006), and 51 percent (2007) have earned degrees from either two-year or four-year institutions.
“Even though we seem to send a high amount to college, we see a slightly better than the national average rate degree attainment, but it still means that a we are not at 100,” Heil said. “SciTech aims at helping students, parents, and community members learn about degrees and careers while interacting with the actual business that employs the specific career.”
Heil said this is why SciTech organizers have higher education institutions participating with the businesses.
“It also allow our current students to put current learning in school to use for college and then career choices,” Heil said. “That is what the meaning of the collaboration triangle is basically a college and career networking opportunity for students, parents, businesses, higher education, and community.”
The Thursday, April 10 showcase will have a booth area that will allow community members the opportunity to interact with local businesses, high school and middle school students and teachers, and institutions of higher education, according to Heil.
It is designed to help everyone see the connection between what school age students are currently learning within the classroom, and where in the community it fits into a career.
Institutions of higher education will be there to provide information on certificates, degrees, and programs they offer to help connect post-high school training to careers.
“We’re all coming together to really showcase for our community members all the great things we do here in Delano, and what we’re about,” Heil said.
The Delano SciTech Showcase aims to educate community on the many opportunities that exist in Delano for its citizens, while informing them of the businesses and their products.
A number of colleges will participate to bridge the connections, along with representatives from the United States Armed Forces.
“This is not just a thing for high school kids,” Heil said. “It’s also for middle school. It’s also for our citizens. If you’re looking for a job or career change, you can come down there and see what our local businesses and industry have to offer. This is really a whole community initiative.”