College & Career Readiness Initiatives at PCHS
By Larry Theiss, Principal, Pacelli Catholic High School
Preparing students for life after high school has been an important part of Pacelli Catholic High School’s mission for decades. Our track record shows our success.
Last spring, PCHS achieved the highest ACT score in the area with a composite score of 24.4 for our graduating seniors. Recently, the high school was also ranked by ACT as one of the top high schools in the state for post-secondary success.
But as the principal, I’m not satisfied with that. I want to help all of my students have a plan for success. Over the past three years, I have worked with my staff and community stakeholders to develop new programs and opportunities for our graduates.
One of the most important things we have done recently as a school is to begin exposing students to the various career paths available to them. Last spring, a small committee of students took charge to plan PCHS’s first Cardinal Career Fair. This fall, over 40 employers attended the event and met with over 200 students. Through this experience, the students were able to begin inquiring about careers in finance, engineering, medical fields, manufacturing, and many more. Next year the student-run event hopes to bring in over 60 employers.
Other opportunities include our internship and apprenticeship programs. Two years ago we began looking at means of providing our students with authentic opportunities to engage in their career interests. In working with CESA 5 and local businesses/employers, we have been able to place 11 students with eight different employers working in a multitude of different fields ranging from banking to anthropology, manufacturing to marketing, education to computers, and more.
Apprenticeship/internship students are assigned projects with real-world results hanging in the balance. Many students report back about how they are directly contributing to the company or program. In all cases, the students work side-by-side with a skilled mentor in the field. This gives them their first opportunity to professionally network and to more solidly craft their post-secondary plan.
This fall, PCHS began developing a partnership with MSTC. Through a grant from the Pacelli Education Foundation, we are going to begin offering college classes to Pacelli students. Not only will the students have a chance to earn college credit, they will also be able to begin their post-secondary education in high school. We currently have students from a broad range of career fields getting ready to take advantage of the program. The vision is that PCHS students will be able to earn as many as 16 college credits before high school graduation.
I am proud of the College & Career Readiness Program at PCHS. Students will have a chance to earn credits before graduation, develop clear post-secondary plans, and more importantly interact with adult mentors outside of Pacelli. The program not only benefits each student, but it also benefits the Stevens Point/Plover community by connecting great students with great employers.
Over the past two years, we have seen the great results of these initiatives. More and more alumni are coming back saying they are better prepared for college and their careers than many of their peers. I am excited about what the future holds for our Pacelli students.
It is truly a privilege to work in a school setting with highly motivated students who excel academically, seeing a world of opportunities awaiting them. This provides me with the unique opportunity to work with them one-on-one to set them on the path to success.