BY BROOKE STEENO AND JACLYN WILLEMS
Raider Products, a newly introduced class at Pulaski High School, has connected Tech Ed students to surrounding businesses and given them valuable, real-world experience for careers while still in high school.
John Pitzen, Jared Marsh and Max DeHut, teachers of the wood, auto-mechanic, and metals portions of Raider Products, respectively, desired to implement classes in PHS that work with the community’s businesses. Inspired by other schools with similar classes, they proposed their idea with the Pulaski Community School District Board of Education five years ago to create the unique classes called, “Raider Products” currently offered at Pulaski High School. This is the first year the woods and autos classes are being run, and it has already shown promising success for the students.
Raider Products offers juniors and seniors the ability to work in a real-world business position where they create wood and metal products as well as work on automobiles for customers and the general Pulaski community. Each student in this class had to take prerequisites of two classes in the respective area of woods, metals, or autos to be enrolled in Raider Products and was selected through an interview process. In the class, students work on doing interviews with clients, making a resume, working with invoices and budgeting costs of materials -- all real-world skills that come with having a career in this field. This class gives a taste of what working in these jobs will actually be like in the future.
For those going onto a Tech Ed related career like senior Matt Vanden Langenberg, the classes hold significant benefits for his immediate future. Working during school to draw out construction plans and find materials for his wood products, Matt explained, “It’s like a real job. You get to work with customers one on one and have a real-world experience. It also prepares you for interviewing in future jobs. I can even move onto my own cabinet business and have training because of this class.”
Joe Deboth, another senior who plans on using this class to his advantage hopes to pursue the metals business in North Carolina. Joe said, “I have built too many things to count in this class--everything from grills to soccer goals. I feel ready to work on my own.”
Similarly, Will (Patrick) Warren, a senior who plans on moving south and finding a shop job after graduation, said, “This class puts you out there and gets you ready for what you need to know.”
Even for students not interested in future Tech Ed occupations, the class holds unmatchable experience opportunities. Logan Bellow, also a senior at PHS in the woods section of Raider Products, has learned how to apply his classroom experience to the world by communicating effectively with customers and mastering Computer Numeric Control -- something that may be helpful in his engineering-focused future. “This class has taught me the business side of everything. It is a great experience, and it’s different than just sitting in a class learning about it. You’re actually applying it here in running your own business,” explained Logan.
The students in the class both do projects on their own and work in teams. The projects these students have been working on this year vary greatly within Raider Products. Logan Bellow is working on engraving shuffleboard sides, Mitch Hirt is working on new jump boxes for the high school, and Will Warren is working on a cabinet. The community comes to these students and asks for their help on projects like a new Polka Days float for the Lion’s Club. This class is treated as a real business from the beginning to the end of each project, and these projects are actually products for Pulaski’s organizations and its people.
Although the class has only started, it illustrates a promising connection between students at PHS and Pulaski’s businesses and helps discover their potential as valuable workers in the greater world. These students are all taking a step outside the classroom and into the workforce while still in high school with Raider Products.