MODESTO -- Kids learn a lot by making robots, flipping crepes and making speeches in class. Doing the same for an eager audience of city leaders, however, took class to a whole new level.
Students from vocational and ag classes at Modesto City Schools attended Wednesday's State of Education event that brought together hundreds of civic, business and school officials.
As curious adults watched a basketball-flinging 'bot, Beyer High robotics students explained so much, so fast, there was barely time to ask what those high-tech terms meant. Energy and excitement on legs, Ana Chapko, Greg Pagani and Spencer Whisenand made the best ambassadors for an effort to show education means business.
That was the plan.
Across from them, poised and polished FFA chapter officers greeted visitors with a firm grip and steady gaze. There are more than 2,500 students in ag-centered classes throughout Stanislaus County, continuing an FFA tradition having a big impact locally, said Jake Wenger of Wood Colony Nut Co. "They're leading ag in a way we haven't seen before," he said.
Last year, the chamber launched its effort to promote business-school partnerships. This year, it laid out its successes.
Mentoring has flourished under Keith Boggs, with some 2,000 business and community adults expected to step forward this year to be assigned, three per child, to provide steady weekly tutoring sessions.
An online site offering dozens of internships to high school and college students is up and running at www.CentralValleyJobs.com/igniteu.
Ignite U founder Sherri Darpinian said she realized students needed experience to get jobs but couldn't get jobs to get experience. Internships fill that need, she said, "but they're hard for them to find. So often it's through word of mouth. I wanted to level the playing field."
The Expect More Stanislaus initiatives are highlighted at a Web site that was unveiled Wednesday, www.expectmorestan.com.
Also announced at the event was the winner of the Excellence in Education Award. The Knights Business Academy of Downey High took home the $1,000 check from the Modesto Sunrise Rotary Club to help support the program.
Teacher Tony Ippolito Jr. said academy students devise and run business ventures at the school, from vending machines to the student store learning marketing, inventory management and accounting with the help of local business mentors.
The payoff for business from excellent schools providing well- prepared employees makes such collaborations well worth the effort, said speaker Sean Carroll.
"I'm a big believer in a rising tide does float all boats," he said.
Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2339.