West Freshman's 'Real World 101'

Student Choice at Center of West Freshman’s ‘Real World 101’
Posted on 11/30/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Student Choice at Center of West Freshman’s ‘Real World 101’A male student performing CPR on a dummy while a female student looks onThe program of study for Lakota West Freshman students grew by 40 courses last Tuesday. The resounding theme: “Real World 101.”

For a third year, students were given the opportunity to “choose their own adventures.” Handed a catalog of options centered around learning, self-discovery and preparation, students built their own schedules to fit what they needed most the day before departing for Thanksgiving break. 

“We dedicate the whole day to helping our students pursue their individual interests - whether that be after college, for a future career or hobby, or even just how to relax and get your mind right,” said West Freshman world history teacher Jason French, who led the endeavor alongside fellow history teacher Jennifer Parrett

The planning duo, who has more than tripled the volunteer-led course catalog options since the program’s start in 2018, said this year’s options all tied back to some aspect of Lakota’s Portrait of a Graduate. Beyond outlining Lakota’s commitment to preparing students for one of the 4Es (Enrollment, Employment, Enlistment or Entrepreneurship), it also outlines such skills as problem-solving, community engagement, collaboration and communication. 

The range of options followed suit, giving students plenty of choices to learn life skills such as CPR, first aid, banking, etiquette, organization, job interviewing, law enforcement encounters and even spatial intelligence. Among the courses giving students a flavor for post-secondary career options was a military service panel, vet services, construction, writing, cyber security, the police force and being your own boss, just to name a few. 

Other courses were geared entirely at helping students watch out for their mental health. From painting kindness rocks to making stress balls to building self esteem, each option modeled different coping strategies. 

“It was really cool that they gave us this opportunity. The amount of options is crazy. There’s really something for everyone,” said Lakota West freshman Lorelei Choate, who used half the day to explore interesting career options and the other half to pursue her love of animals. 

“A lot of people think construction is a bunch of burly guys swinging hammers,” said Nick Barker, who represented Danis Construction and led a course all about trade careers. “There’s a lot more to it and the more we can expose them to all they can do, the better.” 

Another popular and interactive course was one led by four Lakota West seniors, all imparting advice for their younger counterparts’ remaining years of high school. Positioned as a discussion about “what they wish they knew as freshmen,” students shared such life lessons as “make yourself number one” and “build relationships with your teachers.” 

“The whole program was the epitome of personalized learning and made the day all about the students and what they wanted and needed most,” reflected Lakota’s strategic partnerships coordinator Katie Bauer. “Of course, we are so appreciative of the volunteers who gave up their day to share their own experiences with our students.”