The Harrisburg School District has made great strides in the past five years to expand Career & Technical Education (CTE) opportunities for our students. With the assistance of industry partners, we have been able to provide state-of-the-art facilities and programming for the future workforce of South Dakota - right here on our HSD campuses.
Automotive technologies continue to advance, and the South Dakota Department of Labor has cited automotive service technicians and mechanics as one of the Hot 30 Careers in the state’s next ten years. In response, the Harrisburg School District launched its automotive technology learning pathway in January 2021. Working with industry partners like Schulte Subaru, J&M Transmission, and Southeast Technical College, the district has been able to tailor our automotive curriculum to meet the needs of local businesses by ensuring that the programming we are offering aligns with industry standards and expectations while also exposing our learners to professional resources and instruction in our new state-of-the-art automotive shop, the Tiger Stripes Garage. Students currently have the opportunity to participate in both introductory and advanced-level coursework that will prepare them for a career in the field, or enroll in a basic car maintenance course that will train them to care for and maintain their personal vehicle. The district plans to expand these offerings to allow students to study specialized areas, such as engine repair and performance, brakes, and diesel technology, toward an ASE certification.
The Harrisburg Culinary Arts program has created unique opportunities for executive chefs and culinary experts from the area to provide expertise on specific menu items, including a three-year partnership (and counting) with Chef Nicholas Skajewski – a Harrisburg Alum ('12), owner of his own catering business. The Culinary Arts program also has its own CTSO, a ProStart team, in Harrisburg. A joint venture with our DECA and FCCLA clubs offers both baked goods and frozen yogurt to our student body through our school store. Each of these experiences has combined interactions with industry professionals and student-led programming to allow students to explore their interests in the field at an extremely high level.
Prior to the COVID pandemic, a partnership with Plum’s Cooking in downtown Sioux Falls allowed culinary students to take monthly trips to the store to participate in masterclasses with chefs from the area. The employees/managers of Plum’s offered tips and suggestions to the students, as well as allowing them to explore the store and learn more about industry-grade supplies. Students were able to translate their experiences into meaningful projects at school, and Plum’s has become a solid community partner as a result of the experience. In addition, several students from our program have found employment within the restaurant industry under the direction of several of the industry partners. Students participating in the Culinary Arts/Hospitality and Tourism Program at HHS have the opportunity to earn their ServSafe Certification as part of the course sequence.
In response to recent state initiatives regarding the preparation of learners in career and technical education, Harrisburg will continue to provide course offerings and learner programming in twelve career and technical education clusters: Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources; Arts, A/V, Technology, & Communication; Business, Management, & Administration; Education & Training; Finance; Health Science; Hospitality and Tourism; Human Services; Information Technology; Manufacturing; Marketing; and STEM. This includes courses in biomedical science, building trades, culinary, computer science, human services, agriculture, and Audio/Visual courses at the high school, as well as engineering and computer programming courses at the middle school. New to the 2019-2020 course catalog was the addition of the Architecture and Construction career cluster, the district’s thirteenth overall. The goal of this career cluster is to expand infrastructure and skills-development opportunities that will support the fulfillment of high-need workforce areas within the region and state, focusing primarily on the building trades. This includes construction management, HVAC, Plumbing, and Electrical, among others.
Through a collaboration with the Homebuilders Association of the Sioux Empire, Southeast Technical College, and Affordable Housing Solutions, as well as support from other major industry and community partners, the Harrisburg School District has begun to provide access to expert instruction, industry-grade building equipment, and tools, and a multi-phase program that begins with the construction of homes within the new facility at Harrisburg High School and ends with both on- and off-site training experiences in specialty trades, such as plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and drywall. Learners from Harrisburg and other neighboring school districts have the opportunity to develop highly qualified skillsets by working alongside industry experts, earn construction certification credentials through Southeast Technical College, and ultimately enter the workforce and post-secondary training programs tied to the building trades. They also gain a sense of pride and community service as they construct affordable housing that will be relocated and finished within the Harrisburg and Sioux Falls communities.