Last week was really busy, as it tends to get in the spring. Two events sponsored by the Sun Prairie Business Education Partnership had a great impact on me. The first was “Reality Rocks” on Wednesday. This event requires about 50 community members creating a simulation of what it is like to live independently after school. Juniors and seniors are assigned careers and life situations and then navigate paying taxes, finding a place to live, dealing with childcare, investing, maintaining transportation, and all the things one has to balance to live successfully. These ‘stations’ are run by community volunteers, sometimes business people in their own field (e.g., real estate, investments) and sometimes just helping on that day, like Sarah Heck and I did renting apartments. I enjoyed seeing the “ahas” on our kid’s faces as they realized what it takes to live. Why one should not have children until one is financially settled. What it will be like when mom and dad don’t pay for the cell phone plan. How balancing a checkbook/ debit account is a survival tool, not just a math problem. However, the greatest impact on me personally came from talking to our students going through the process. While “renting apartments,” I had the chance to ask many seniors about their plans after high school. Our youth are so thought-full about where they are headed! Most are able to articulate what they want and, more importantly, why. I met kids with dreams of everything from auto mechanics to actuaries, pilots to police officers, foreign service officers to food service workers. One young man passionately dreams of opening the first Honduran restaurant in Madison! Another thing, our Sun Prairie young people are so polite and thoughtful. Parents, the community and our schools are rightfully proud to have helped bring these young people to this place of being “ready to launch.” I think this was an awesome experience for our students, and for me it was a really inspiring snapshot of our children’s futures. If you can, you should volunteer to help next fall when it happens again. Contact Nancy Everson at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The next day happened to be the Annual Meeting of the Sun Prairie Business Education Partnership (BEP). Members of this group (over 70 businesses) are awesome builders of community. While paying a small membership fee, most importantly, they provide hundreds upon hundreds of hours of time working programs you may have heard of like Adopt-a-Classroom, Reading Buddies, Quarterly Recognition for student achievement, and Breakfast of Champions. You can learn more at http://sunprairiebep.com/. One highlight of the meeting were speeches given by two seniors who are recipients of the Adopt-a-Future Scholarship: Vicky Mickelsen and Chenmua Yang. Adopt-a-Future identifies deserving 5th grade students and then monitors their progress each year, making sure they stay on track to graduate. If they meet all criteria each year, graduates are presented with a $1000 scholarship provided via the BEP by a generous business or community contributor. Currently, there are about 15 students in the Adopt-a-Future pipeline. Vicky’s and Chenmua’s remarks about the journey through our schools were inspiring and moving. I thought everyone who cares about youth and/or education should read them, so here are links to the text of their remarks:
I am so grateful for groups like the BEP that mobilize the community to support our children’s education. I am so thankful for our school personnel who serve children, assisting them in learning and development into such quality young people ready to take their place in life beyond high school. I am so proud of our students who engage with these opportunities to achieve their dreams.
You rock, Sun Prairie!