Supt Column - WSD Extends Learning Beyond Books & Desks

Supt Column - WSD Extends Learning Beyond Books & Desks
Posted on 11/07/2017

It’s been a full school year since the Wausau School District opened its new and renovated career and technical education facilities at Wausau East and Wausau West high schools after the successful passage of the April 2015 referendum. And it’s been a full year since we celebrated the opening of these manufacturing, automotive, woods, metals, graphics, and agriculture facilities with you. Allow me to share with you the amazing experiences our students and staff have had thus far, knowing this is just the beginning of more great opportunities to come.

All eighth-grade students in the district, more than 620, participated in a daylong Heavy Metal Tour. Sponsored by the Central Wisconsin Metal Manufacturing Alliance and other post-secondary institutions, students toured businesses and explored the various high-demand manufacturing careers. The tour also included the new and renovated career and technical education facilities at our high schools. The eighth-graders were able to learn from and ask questions of our business leaders and our high school students who also demonstrated for them each school’s new equipment and machines.

Sophomores, juniors and seniors at Wausau East enrolled in sculpture classes paired up with the advanced manufacturing classes to collaborate with master artist-in-residence Don Rambadt at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum and at the school’s manufacturing lab. The collaboration provided a wonderful opportunity for students to work with Rambadt to combine fine art and manufacturing techniques to develop original sculpture designs for fabrication. Students were challenged to step out of their comfort zones and to bring their varied skill sets to work on a project that first appeared on paper, then became a 3-D visual, to what ultimately will become a fabricated sculpture. Students soon realized that art and technology really do cross over.

Our high school students are using the new equipment and facilities to engage in district and community projects such as building beds for the Wausau School Forest, creating various signs, constructing outdoor sheds and, most recently, designing plans to build dugouts at Wausau East in partnership with the Wausau Area Builders Association. As a District, we look forward to partnering with the Northcentral Workforce Development Board and Northcentral Technical College on an innovative program to support career pathways for the auto collision industry.

Our students also have opportunities to participate in SkillsUSA welding competitions, wood and welding career days, construction trades career day, other business and industry tours, and post-secondary education tours.

Farm to School month is celebrated in October and all fourth-graders in the district, more than 610, visited the Zernicke Family Farm and the Breitenfeldt Family Farm as part of the Food for America program. At this daylong event, the fourth-graders toured a variety of stations and learned about agriculture and animal science taught by our high school FFA students.

As I stated this summer, and it’s worth repeating, “We are thankful for our supportive community that allows us to expand and enhance our facilities and class offerings through tax dollars ... and for our students who continue to amaze and inspire us.”

Michael Schwei is the interim superintendent of the Wausau School District.