“Where do you see yourself in five years?” a teacher recently asked East Valley High School senior Rylee Walker.
It’s a question many are asked in job interviews and one the school hopes students can answer by the time they graduate.
To get them there, the school starts all freshmen with a career class. They look at different kinds of jobs and learn about their own strengths and interests.
As sophomores, students begin strengthening their computer communication skills. As juniors, they begin working on their 13th year plan – what their plan is the year after they graduate from high school.
Seniors at East Valley last week presented what they have learned – their senior culminating project – to more than 100 business professionals and 80 teachers. They collected some of their best work from their four years of high school and put it into a portfolio. They created a video about themselves, their families, classes they have taken and their interests. They then presented a hands-on project about what they would like to do as a career.
Principal Jeff Miller said EV students have done their senior culminating projects this way since 2002, when the state mandated all students present some sort of project in order to graduate.
“It’s up to districts to determine what that looks like,” Miller said.
East Valley’s culminating projects take place the week of High School Proficiency Exams to give teachers the opportunity to sit in on the presentations. Miller said the school recruited business people to attend and judge a number of years ago and the guest judges liked the idea so much they keep coming back. He said finding business people isn’t hard – they have heard of the presentations and volunteer.
He said the program relies heavily on Marla Simon, career and technical education teacher, and John Savage, assistant principal and CTE director.
During Walker’s presentation, she talked about her plans to become an art teacher. She showed judges a PowerPoint presentation that included her own artwork, describing the materials she used and the process she uses to complete each piece.
She told them she has a plan to attend Spokane Community College to earn her associate of arts degree before moving on to Washington State University to major in teaching and minor in art.
In five years, she hoped to be doing her student teaching. In 10 years, she hoped to be a full-time teacher.
Markie Jones, 17, told the judges about her time at the Skills Center learning about cosmetology. She brought in mannequin heads and demonstrated how to put highlights in a customer’s hair and how to roll hair in curlers.
Jones wants to attend SCC and study cosmetology and get a business degree at the same time. She wants to be renting a booth at a salon in five years and have her own salon in 10.
“It’s the last hump before graduation,” Walker said. Although she had been working on her presentation to become an art teacher for the last four years, she has been thinking lately that she might really want to be a baker.
Jones said she still wants to work in cosmetology.
“I really like helping other people look good,” she said.
The two said they were nervous before their presentations, but felt good about them.