At the first career and technical education event at Elkhorn Area High School, held Feb. 13, Chris Stebnitz, of Stebnitz Builders, Elkhorn, is one of several guests to speak with students about trades. (Courtesy Sandy Jenkins/EAHS)

Focus includes trades, health care, hospitality and manufacturing

By Heather Ruenz

SLN staff

In an effort to get students more involved in a variety of career based learning experiences, including youth apprenticeships, co-ops, internships, job shadows, team projects with local businesses, and career panels, Elkhorn Area High School is embarking on a series of career oriented educational events.

According to JoAnne Pella, Career and Technical Education coordinator for Elkhorn Area High School, “past career panels were much larger in scope and more impersonal.”

In January, Gabby Richardson, a student at the high school, approached Pella with the idea of inviting community members to have a cup of coffee in the school’s Elkafe.

“With February being national CTE month, Gabby and I refined her idea and extended the invitations to our business partners, in a variety of industries, who either currently work with our students or who have worked with us in the past either through career based learning experiences or investments in our programs, financial or otherwise,” Pella said.

The next step was asking the school’s business partners to speak on careers in their respective industries, emphasizing the relevance of high school coursework to the job, post-secondary training involved, the development of employability skills, rewards of the job, and “whatever else they felt important to share with interested students about their work,” Pella explained.

“Our goal in running these events is to make students aware of all the career possibilities that may be of interest to them,” she added.

Richardson took charge of organizing the promotion with the student body prepared treats as incentives for students to participate and creating signage.

“And she prepared the oh-so-delicious coffee,” Pella said, adding she took on the task of setting up the business partners for the events.

The first career invite, held Feb. 13 focused on trades – carpentry, construction, plumbing, heating, air conditioning and an electrician – and was very successful, according to Pella.

“Students enjoyed the casual conversation – and the treats, our business partners appreciated the one-on-one talks with students and felt they could answer individual questions much more effectively and personally than in a large career panel,” she said.

Students, who attended the event during their flex time period, were also able to apply for positions.

The career events continued with EAHS hosting health providers Aurora Health Care System, Mercy Health Care System and Holton Manor, on Feb. 20. On Feb. 22, hospitality was the featured career and included representatives from The Abbey Resort, Geneva National, Lake Lawn Lodge and Gooseberries Market.

Today, March 1, manufacturing will take center stage at a career event. Though partners are still being added, as of early this week, Certified Power and Precision Plus, both of Elkhorn, as well as MPC, of Walworth, were scheduled to participate.

For more information about the program, including ideas for future career focuses, contact JoAnne Pella at 262-723-4920, ext. 1637 or


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