Wisconsin State Journal: Sun Prairie Fire Chief Chris Garrison remembers his “aha” moment, when he knew he was on the right track with a pilot program in which high school students at Prairie Phoenix Academy attend the Fire Academy program at Madison Area Technical College.
Garrison said one of the students, D.J. Presley, had put on the firefighter gear and when asked how it felt replied, “It just fits.”
That’s all Garrison needed to witness as he was spearheading the year-long academic program created by the Sun Prairie Fire Department, Prairie Phoenix Academy and Madison Area Technical College. MATC shuttles the 11 students from their school each morning to the Fire Academy, where they attend classes and training, and then returns them to Prairie Phoenix Academy to finish their school day.
“Usually people don’t do this,” said Presley, about the program which is being offered free to students. “It’s like being handed a couple thousand dollars.”
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The Star: The Sun Prairie Area School District has been named among the best communities for music education.
The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation recognized 527 school districts and 92 schools across the nation for their outstanding music education programs. Each year, the NAMM Foundation selects school districts to be recognized as among the best communities for music education (BCME).
Now in its 18th year, the awards program recognizes outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of the curriculum. The districts NAMM recognizes set the bar in offering student access to comprehensive music education.
Selections are based on survey results in cooperation with researchers at The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.
The designation takes on added significance this year with new research showing strong ties between active participation in school music education programs and overall student success for student ages K-12. A recent study of students in the Chicago Public Schools by researchers at Northwestern University, detailed in Neuroscientist and Education Week, builds on previous findings that participation in music education programs helps improves brain function, discipline and language development.
The Star: The halls of Sun Prairie High School are home to engineers, accountants, biotechnology researchers, nurses, automotive technicians, pharmacy technicians, plumbers, welders, and construction workers. The people in these professions are students too, part of the high school’s Youth Apprenticeship Program.
The program gives juniors and seniors real-world work experience in a career field of their choice, supplementing paid work experience with related classes in addition to their high school coursework.
Hiba Hashim, a senior, works as a pharmacy technician at UW Health at the American Center through the program. Hashim said she had always been interested in the medical field, and her interest in pharmacy sparked after she took a biotechnology class last year. When the class ended, she met with SPHS school to career counselor Nancy Everson, who worked throughout the summer to find Hashim a position in which she could experience working in a hospital setting.
Working constantly with patients and insurance companies at the pharmacy, Hashim said she has developed better communication skills that will help in her goal of becoming a doctor. Hashim has applied to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to major in nursing, and may continue working at the American Center Pharmacy once she moves on to college.
“When I first started out, I always thought that the pharmacy was a really isolated place because you’re always in the back with medicines,” Hashim said. “But, now that I actually work in a hospital, I realize just how much pharmacists have an impact on patient care.”
The Star: Sun Prairie High School junior Jon Pineda is deciding where to live. He pulls out his phone’s calculator, weighs his options and ultimately decides to rent a house.
“It’s probably going to be easier and more convenient for my life,” he said.
Pineda isn’t making real-life housing decisions yet, but as part of the high school’s seventh annual Reality Rocks, he’s making the choices hypothetically.
On Dec. 16, other students in Business Education classes and Pineda made financial decisions as part of certain scenarios, many assigned based on their own goals.