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Chelan High School Career Connections class creates opportunities for students

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CHS Danny Lopez, Jr. (center) earned a Quik Auto jacket as a token of appreciation from Karl and Debbie Word for being such a hardworking and dedicated intern. Pictured: Debbie Word, Danny Lopez, Jr, and Karl Word. (Photo provided by Lake Chelan School District)

In an effort to create meaningful connections with the business community, the Lake Chelan School District invites business mentors to be a part of students’ educational goals. A class at Chelan High School (CHS) called Career Connections provides hands-on opportunities for students to try a career before they devote hundreds of dollars into their post-secondary education.

CHS College and Career Coordinator Terrie Carleton has been teaching and guiding this effort as a way to introduce her students to various career paths. She does this with the help of several Chelan community partners and mentors.

Each year, after students enroll in her class, Carleton helps students discover their career interest and then matches that interest with a business mentor in town. Over the years this partnership with area businesses has paid off handsomely for both the students and the businesses. These internships are a way for students to get out of the classroom and into programs that are meaningful and practical for the student.

“There is nothing quite as powerful as having the opportunity to determine first hand if a career pathway is the right one for a student’s future,” Carelton said. “Our community is stronger because of the connections students are experiencing because of the program.” 

She continued, “When students build a relationship with mentors and learn work habits from these local professionals, our entire community benefits from the networking that both the student and the business person is experiencing.” 

Chelan High School believes this impact forms a bridge between the school and community and open doors for education, as well as future employment. Over the years, several students who took this class were hired for full time summer employment or year round part-time employment.

An enthusiastic supporter of this program is Karl Word, co-owner of Quik Auto Clinic. Karl has mentored several CHS students and cannot say enough about the students that he and his wife, Debbie, are mentoring. This fall, one student, Danny Lopez, Jr., earned a Quik Auto jacket as a token of appreciation from Karl and Debbie for being such a hardworking and dedicated intern.

Karl and Debbie Word have been committed to the program for several years and continue to support their individual interns throughout their high school careers. Besides Quik Auto, other businesses on board this semester are the Lake Chelan Community Hospital, NorthShoreBC, Barajas Landscaping, Farmers Insurance Agency, Chelan Fresh, Morgen Owings Elementary, Real Life Lake Chelan and The Village Vet.

Since the inception of the program, Chelan School District has partnered with local restaurants, vineyards, wineries, the Chamber of Commerce, grocery stores, accounting offices, retail stores, hotels, and the agricultural industry.

The goal of the school district is to provide students with an opportunity to try a trade or career pathway they are interested in and create a bridge between the classroom and real world experience. Career Connections, with the help of the community, does just that.

(Submitted by Lake Chelan School District)

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