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School becomes career-focused

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History and Philosophy Instructor Dr. Brian Reeves gave an update on Farmington High School’s transition to a Latin Honors system during the Farmington School Board meeting last week.

“I appreciate the board exploring and approving the Latin Honors System in the last school year,” he said. “As we go forward, I think it’s going to be a really cool thing. The rationale for it is not only to promote, not only scholarship but the whole person, character, service and career preparation.

"This year is our transition year. We are going to have a valedictorian and salutatorian, but no 3-10. Then we are also going to recognize the three criteria for Latin Honors. The top honor is summa cum laude, which is 5.5 or higher GPA, eventually it’s going to be 100 hours of community service, but we are prorating this in for the senior class of 2025, a 30-hour work internship, and 90% attendance cumulative over their high school career. The magna is 5.49-4.5, all the other benchmarks, and cum laude is 4.49-4.39.”

Part of the Latin Honors System requires internships of high school students with local businesses and institutions to better learn their potential career paths. Reeves noted the importance of this program.

“The internship program we started this summer, we had 50 people participate in it this summer,” he said. “It was one of those things we created on the fly, but it worked very well. We had lots of community partners. It was a really good experience. We had some students found out that they really loved what they were doing, but equally important, we found students that found that ‘I really don’t want to do this.' In fact, they have scheduled internships to explore other areas.”

Reeves used statistics of the current senior class to illuminate where they would rank when the Latin Honors System is fully implemented.

“Preliminary data for the class of 2020,” he said. “This data is only running attendance and GPA. We based the numbers off of what we thought would be last year’s senior’s class. Summa cum laude, this year’s senior class, 27 would have the top honors. Forty one would have the second tier, and 44 [cum laude].”

The Class of 2020 has turned out to be a high-achieving class, Reeves observed. Last year’s senior class had four students that had a 30 or higher composite on the ACT test. This year there are already 15 with 30 or above.

“I think we may hit the 20-mark by the end, we’ve got several at 29 and 28,” he said. “Running the numbers for next year’s class, we have two at summa level. Obviously that does not have the internship factored in, that does not have the service hours factored in. We have about 75 students that have done the internship. If you don’t do the other two pieces, the service and internship, you don’t get the honors.

“Our long-term goal is to have every senior have an internship at FHS. We hope to achieve that goal in the next five years.”

Dr. Lindsey Kearns, 10-12th grade counselor, explained to the board about the expansion of career path programs for high school students.

“We are trying to become more intentional with what we do with careers,” she said. “Looking at the data, about 40% of our students go directly into careers after high school. We’ve not focused a lot on that group and we would like to turn our focus a little more on them.

“Our goal is to have every freshmen when they come into the high school that they already have a career path chosen. That can change, but have at least something identified when they come in, so that we can start working through whether this is something they really want to do, or maybe it’s something they don’t want to do, and they need to figure that part out. Freshman year would be more of orientation, awareness and taking introductory classes. Sophomore and junior would be skill development, and senior year would be that capstone, that certification, maybe taking some college classes in those areas.”

Kearns noted that they are going to start working more with middle school students in career classes and counseling. She also explained that career preparation will be much easier with high school students in this curriculum.

“Once they have got set in those career pathways, as counselors we can better identify the classes to help them get into those and start getting their feet wet in those career areas,” she said. “Starting second semester this year, the counselors are going to start pushing into some of the core classes and bringing that career awareness, letting students know about jobs they don’t know about. We think about Parkland Hospital, and kids first think doctors, nurses, but there’s so many different positions that are in the hospital that students could go into that don’t necessarily have a medical degree.

“Already in this semester, we have already done 10 different activities that are college and career-related. We’ve had college fairs, we’ve taken the kids to a couple of career fairs, we’ve participated in manufacturing day. We are trying to take advantage of all those activities around.”

Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at mmarberry@farmingtonpressonline.com

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