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Tag: Spotlight

50 Years of Serving St. Louis County Students

On September 5, 1967, South Tech welcomed its first class of 400 students to campus on West Watson Road in Sunset Hills.  The Special School District Board of Education stated a simple, but challenging goal for their newly established Technical Division:  “make available to the youth and adults of St. Louis County a program of vocational technical education second to none in America.” Fifty years later, South Tech continues to strive toward this goal and enjoys a long list of successful, happy graduates. To honor 50 years of service to the community and its students, Sunset Hills Mayor Patricia A. Fribis shared a proclamation declaring April 24, 2018 “South Technical High School Day”.  Principal Jake Lohse was awarded the proclamation at a recent Sunset Hills City Council meeting.

South and North Tech High Schools were developed using grants from the Vocational Act of 1963 which aimed to ensure that new and expanded vocational and technical education opportunities were available to students and remained in harmony with the needs of industry.  The act’s language about meeting the “needs of industry” required flexibility and a commitment to providing education that remained relevant. The resulting variety of program offerings over the decades reflects of our ever changing labor force.

South Tech students enter the building in 1968

In the 1967-1968 school year, South Tech offered the following courses:  Air Conditioning & Refrigeration, Appliance Service, Auto Mechanics, Body & Fender Repair, Business & Office Education, Commercial Art, Electronic Data Processing, Fitter-Welder, Industrial Electronics, Offset-Lithography, Radio-TV Service, and Sheet Metal.  Juniors and seniors attended for the full day and took social studies, physical education and English classes along with their technical courses. Since the high school was comprehensive, students also participated in a variety of extracurricular activities including prom, sports, student council, and other clubs.  South Tech continued offering a full day program until 2008.

South Tech Machine Shop, 1968

Tech today continues developing dynamic courses for students to prepare them for in-demand career opportunities both regionally and nationally.  Programs like Pharmacy Sciences and Design & Entrepreneurship have been added in response to increased regional interest in these fields. Dramatically increased demand from the construction industry inspired a recent restructuring of our construction programs to allow more exploration during the junior year.  Students can become more familiar with fields like carpentry and electrical trades and learn about job opportunities with those programs’ industry partners before choosing an advanced core class their senior year. Echoes of 1968’s Electronic Data Processing are present in the complex and challenging curricula of our CISCO Networking Academy and Web & Computer Programming.  Industrial Electronics has evolved into an Electronics & Robotics Engineering course, preparing students for high-level university study. Demands in medical science inspired the development of courses in Health Sciences, Dental Sciences, and Veterinary Assistant. South Tech also began training students for public safety careers in Law Enforcement and Firefighting and Emergency Medical Technician, sending countless numbers of students to respective academies after graduation to join the forces of those who serve to protect.  And human service programs like Early Childhood Education, Culinary Arts, and Cosmetology have given students opportunities to earn certifications, licensure and college credit in creative and exciting careers.Unlike the programs offered in 1968, many of today’s skilled trade and technical fields require post-secondary education.  Choosing to attend a university or college, technical college, or community college is a common next step for most of our students.  Over the years, many of career fields have added certifications (IRC’s) to the credentials they require for employment. South Tech has incorporated these exams into our curriculum, giving students a jump start as many search for part-time employment and internships as they begin their post-secondary studies.  Programs that give students career opportunities immediately after high school graduation, including several apprenticeship programs, also remain among our offerings. Because Tech is focused on preparing and inspiring students, there are no limits on where they can go after completing one of our programs.

South Tech’s next 50 years look even more promising.  As the national conversation about K-12 education shifts focus to include a more concentrated effort on producing career-ready graduates, South Tech’s career and technical education electives will play an important role in preparing our region’s students for the career opportunities of the future.  South Tech’s commitment today remains as it was in its inaugural year. As stated by the school’s first principal, Homer Horton, “The South (County) Technical High School expands the realm of educational opportunities for the youth of St. Louis County and provided better prepared young employees for business and industry.”   

South Tech Students Soar at SkillsUSA National Competitions

South Tech students had an amazing week in Louisville, KY last month where they attended in the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. The annual conference included competitions, break out sessions, celebrations, team building events, and a guest speaking engagement with Mike Rowe of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation.

Competing nationally requires preparation, practice, and discipline and South Tech’s results reflect the hard work of our students. We are so proud of them and their accomplishments.

To learn more about SkillsUSA and the National Conference, visit their website at SkillsUSA or watch this fun video of the week in review.

Amanda Ohlau – elected President of Missouri’s SkillsUSA State Officer Team 2017-18
Amanda also participated in the Action Skills contest with Zach Goetter as her model. She will be featured in an upcoming article in the national SkillsUSA publication Champions.

IT Services – Christopher Moore – 3rd place
Chris has only just finished his junior year and performed exceptionally well in this very challenging contest. He also passed his A+ certification (IRC) during the competition.

Firefighting – Patrick (Alex) Way – 13th place
Alex earned his EMT certification and his Fire I and II certifications before he left for Louisville. Alex’s instructor, Dave Hope, was extremely proud of his performance against some very tough competition. Alex is now employed at Barnes Hospital on the Cardio Thoracic floor as a Patient Care Technician.

Welding Fabrication – Joel Besch, Jared Jacquot, Jason Neier – 7th place
This dedicated team drove to the Sheet Metal Workers facility (Local 36) downtown three mornings per week since early May to prepare for this competition because their program lab was undergoing renovations.

Welding Sculpture – Alex Juelfs – 6th place
Alex competed nationally for the second time this year. Qualifying for nationals once is a significant accomplishment. Alex has set the bar very high for future South Tech welding sculpture competitors.

Quiz Bowl – Joseph Steinhoff, Ashlynne Dietrich, Kai Hoffman, Kelaiah Killmade – 23rd place
Mrs. Schnurbush, Quiz Bowl sponsor, said this team of first-year students performed very well in a competitive field. She expects them to hard to beat in next year’s contest.

Power Equipment Technology – Christopher Ownbey – 14th place
Chris participated in his major’s Forklift Repair program through our partnership with Heubel Material Handling. He earned an internship with them and is now working for them as a full-time technician.

Job Demonstration A – Hadley (Shae) McNeill – 13th place
The judges gave Shae very high marks (over 90%) but there was just so much competition.

Automated Manufacturing Technology – Caleb Harter, Mike Steppig, Mark Witte – 11th place
This team’s resilience impressed their sponsors. When they arrived to their pre-contest meeting, they learned that their contest had changed and they would be required to compete with unfamiliar machinery. Even though their fellow competitors had up to 48 hours to familiarize themselves with these changes, our team handled themselves in an incredibly mature and sportsman-like way and rose to the challenge.

Out of 109 competitors from South Tech, and hundreds more from across the state, a record of 21 students have qualified for the 2017 Skills USA National Championships.

April 13th and 14th, State Technical College of Missouri hosted this year’s State Competitions during which students in career and technical (CTE) majors in both high school and post-secondary education came together to work, learn, and compete in a wide variety of skilled trade contests.

Governor Greitens addressed the competitors Friday morning, stating that what students are learning through CTE is essential to the state of Missouri’s prosperity. CTE allows students to develop work ethic, responsibility, and creative problem solving skills along with the variety of specialized skills related to their career focused course of study. “We have to have a trained, excited, and capable work force,” Greitens said, “and the work that you guys are doing at SkillsUSA represents the very work we need to be promoting throughout the state of Missouri.” Greitens also acknowledged the mentors and teachers in attendance for their important work.

The SkillsUSA 53rd annual National Leadership and Skills Conference SkillsUSA will be held in Louisville, Ky., June 19-23, 2017. More than 16,000 people, including students, teachers and business partners, are expected to participate in the weeklong event. South Tech’s list of 1st place winners who qualified for National Championships are:

  • SEAN GIBSON BAYLESS Dental Assisting
  • JASON T NEIER LADUE Welding Fabrication A
  • JOEL BESCH LINDBERGH Welding Fabrication A
  • ANTHONY TRUONG LINDBERGH Related Technical Math
  • JARED JACQUOT MEHLVILLE Welding Fabrication A
  • ALEX JUELFS MEHLVILLE Welding Sculpture
  • MARK WITTE PARKWAY NORTH Automated Manufacturing A
  • MICHAEL STEPPIG HOME SCHOOL Automated Manufacturing A
  • CALEB HARTER HOME SCHOOL Automated Manufacturing A
  • CHRISTOPHER MOORE WEBSTER GROVES Information Technology Services

Additionally, two South Tech students campaigned for state officer – Amanda Ohlau and Hailey Williams, both juniors from Rockwood Summit. To qualify as a candidate, these students became experts on the SkillsUSA organization and its mission. They were required to pass a variety of qualifying exams, develop their own mission focused campaign materials, draft and deliver speeches to voting delegates and SkillsUSA advisors, and host “Meet the Candidates” sessions during the state conference. Sally Difani, South Tech’s SkillsUSA co-lead and College and Career counselor said, “Both girls did an outstanding job!” Amanda Ohlau was elected and will serve on the state board in the coming school year.

South Tech is proud of all of its competitors and SkillsUSA members and recognizes their outstanding drive for excellence.

A Partnership with an Eye on the Future

The Home Builders Association of St. Louis & Eastern Missouri (HBA), through the launch of their first student chapter, has partnered with North Technical High School in Florissant and South Technical High School in Sunset Hills to enrich the lives of students interested in the trades by offering them first-hand exposure to the world of home building.

“North Tech and South Tech have comprehensive construction programs for high school students, making them optimal partners for our new student chapter. With exposure to different trades throughout their junior year and focusing on a specialty senior year, students graduate ready to work in the trades,” said Dale Black, 2018 HBA President. “Our members are excited to present to the classes and give them a look into the residential construction industry.” Several speakers, representing multiple areas of the construction industry, have already visited both schools and shared their experiences while answering countless questions from our students.

The HBA’s goal is to connect members with students to provide job shadowing, internships, and opportunities after graduation. The hope is that this will create a pipeline of talent for the industry while providing high-paying jobs for graduates.

“A career in residential construction allows students to be creative and build the American Dream for local families. We are impressed with the quality of students at North Tech and South Tech and look forward to seeing our partnership benefit students as well as the many companies who belong to the HBA and are in need of skilled employees,” said Black.

To learn more about the HBA, visit their website at http://www.stlhba.com.

Ameren Skilled Craft Participants Tour Sioux Power Plant

Ameren Skilled Craft Education Program participants were treated to a tour of the Sioux Power Plant in West Alton, Missouri on April 24th. Students toured all levels of the plant including the cyclone boiler, the emissions scrubber system, coal reserves and conveyers, and the computer control centers which run and monitor the plant. They were also treated to a luncheon and meetings with managers from the plant who answered questions and shared an overview of the plant’s functions.

Two North Tech graduates, George Bazzle (2016, Electrical Trades) and Charles Rowe (2016, Precision Machining), who were recently hired by Ameren to work at the Sioux plant joined the students during lunch and shared their experiences. All Ameren plant employees begin as laborers earning approximately $17 an hour. With overtime, Bazzle and Rowe will earn around $55,000 in their first year with the utility provider. Both emphasized the importance of starting good habits now because punctuality is critical to a successful career with Ameren. Opportunities to move upward are frequent and Bazzle and Rowe encouraged students to always be working towards their next goals. Ambitious and responsible employees can move into apprenticeships with higher pay and specialized training.

During May, Ameren will be sending representatives from their Human Resources department to North and South Tech to administer their pre-employment exam to our Skilled Craft Education Program participants. This is a big advantage for our students due to the volume of applicants Ameren experiences when openings are posted.

To learn more about the Skilled Craft Education Program, click here.

Culinary Arts Students Enjoy Lamb Feast
The South Tech Culinary Arts students recently enjoyed lamb chops, stew, and ground lamb thanks to a generous grant from the Missouri Sheep Merchandising Council which promotes American lamb. The grant, totaling $250, was used to teach the students about preparing lamb, including lessons on the various cuts and cooking methods used to prepare it. The Sheep Council hopes to promote lamb consumption and share this unique learning opportunity with young people studying culinary careers.
PARIC Joins South Tech as Industry Partner

South Tech’s Construction Innovations students were treated to a special kick-off to their classes hosted by our newest industry partner, St. Louis’ PARIC Construction.

Jeffrey Eye, Manager of Learning and Development for PARIC, and Bill Willman – Superintendent, shared a brief presentation with students about the company’s current projects, growth, and employee needs. The program included information about buildings like the Scott Trade Center so students could see the vast scale and scope of the types of major construction projects they could work on someday, as well as an emphasis on safety. Eye and Willman also distributed PARIC bags to each student which included their safety vest, safety glasses, and personalized hard hats which the company had provided free of charge.

PARIC wants to “build the pipeline”, Eye said. Through mentoring, speaker visits, job site visits and tours, and more, they will support students in South Tech’s construction programs at the junior and senior level and beyond. PARIC has experienced tremendous growth over the last two years, more than doubling the number of carpenters in their Self-Perform group (PARIC’s own group of full-time tradespeople). They have offered a college internship program for several years in engineering, estimating, and management, but wanted to extend their reach further back in order to inspire and mentor students at the high school level.

Sharing information about regional opportunities in construction with students is constant practice at South Tech as the need for skilled tradespeople continues to grow and the skills gap remains unfilled. Partnering with secondary and post-secondary educators in the fields that fuel these career paths is becoming a key component of industry outreach strategies and we are proud to have PARIC join our efforts to inspire and prepare young people for the construction careers they explore at South Tech.

Health Sciences Academy Gets a Glimpse of Life in the ER

Students in the Pre-Professional Health Sciences class were invited by Jennifer Irvin, Health Educator, BJC School Outreach and Youth Development, to tour the Barnes Jewish Hospital Campus. They were able to see the main pharmacy that supplies the hospital with medications, and learn how the medications travel from the pharmacy to the patient floors.

Students were then given a behind the scenes tour of the pediatric Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital. During the tour, students learned about trauma, teamwork, communication, and the hi-tech equipment used to treat pediatric patients.

After a visit to the Family Resource Center, which aids families in researching illnesses or developmental stages, the students headed to “Big Barnes” emergency department. Students were welcomed by the Clinical Nurse Educator, Nora where the PPHSA students were able to watch first responders arriving in the ambulance bay and learn about mass disaster planning and precautions at the hospital.

At the end of our visit, students and instructors were able to observe an outgoing flight from the helipad.

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Special School District Notice of Non-Discrimination and Accommodation

Special School District does not discriminate or tolerate discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation against an individual based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation, ancestry, disability, veteran status, age, or activity protected by federal or state law in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. Direct inquiries and complaints under this policy to Special School District’s Director – Compliance Liaison, 12110 Clayton Road, St. Louis, Missouri 63131, telephone (314) 989-8100 or to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, One Petticoat Lane, 1010 Walnut Street, 3rd Floor, Suite 320, Kansas City, Missouri 64106, telephone (816) 268-0550, fax (816) 268-0599, TDD (800) 877-8339, email OCR.KansasCity@ed.gov Information about the existence and location of services, activities, and facilities accessible to impaired persons can be obtained from the Special School District’s Director – Compliance Liaison at the phone number and address listed above.
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