The hallways, classrooms, library and and gymnasium at Denison High School (DHS) were abuzz with activity on Thursday for Future You Day.
The point of the day was to get DHS students to think about their future after high school and to start to make plans.
“We try to explain to them that college isn’t the only option, even though a lot of times we focus on college,” said DHS counselor Michael Phipps. “We always talk to the kids about having a plan, whatever that plan is. It doesn’t have to be college, but we want them to do something after high school.”
“And you can have a plan A, plan B and plan C, because you just don’t know,” said student services coordinator Jen Kinsey.
“Our goal is to prepare them for whatever avenues they want to take,” said school counselor Dana Marten.
DHS freshmen started the day with several presentations about the risks of tobacco and then Annie Schrum, of United Bank of Iowa, talked to them about the basics of banking.
In the afternoon, the freshmen participated in a colors personality test to help reveal if they learn better in a group or individually.
“We try to associate it with their learning styles and working with others,” Marten said.
Employers want to know about personality styles, Kinsey said.
The test helps students recognize their own personality types and that not everyone has the same type, she said.
Freshmen are just starting to get to know themselves, she added.
Sophomores spent the day focusing on careers.
In the morning, they went to Denison Job Corps to check out the trades taught there and to dispel myths about Job Corps.
“A lot of our kids think of Job Corps as for kids that can’t handle high school or troubled kids or they just plain don’t know anything about it,” Kinsey said. “It’s right in our back yard and they have some amazing trades that they offer.”
“It was once a college, so there are dorms and a dining center, so it’s a little sneak preview of what a small college would look like and how the buildings are organized,” Marten said.
The sophomores attended a session about drugs with Crawford County Sheriff James Steinkuehler and District 3B Judge Jeffrey Neary.
They also worked on a MAP (My Academic Plan), which is a state requirement.
“In their sophomore year we want them to start thinking of what they want to do with their life,” Kinsey said. “If they wait until their junior or senior year – I don’t want to say it’s too late – but it’s too late for us to step in and give guidance on classes they could take.”
Juniors spent the day focused on the possibilities of college.
“Our juniors went to our college fair in the morning in the gym and then we put them on a bus to Sioux City this afternoon,” Phipps said. The students visited Morningside College and Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City.
“We have some juniors who have never set foot on a college campus,” Kinsey said, “so this is a great opportunity for them to at least visit a four-year or a two-year (college).”
The seniors had a college fair in the morning and in the afternoon they worked on career planning, filled out college applications and attended required CPR training.
“We want to get them to the point that they know what they want to do,” Kinsey said. “Granted, they are 18 years old and they’re probably going to change their minds now and then, and probably more than once, but if we at least get them thinking about it earlier, I feel like this has been a successful day.”
More than 40 businesses visited DHS in the afternoon on Thursday to speak with students.
“Each student has a different schedule of what they are going to go see,” she said.
Planning for Future you Day started in early June.
Phipps, Kinsey, Marten and DHS Principal Dave Wiebers took care of most of the planning.
“Last year was our first year and we didn’t know what we didn’t know,” Kinsey said. “This year we knew we needed to make some changes, so hopefully next year it will be even smoother.”
Coordinating all the different activities was a challenge.
“The same four buses that took the sophomores to Job Corps dropped them off at one door, came around, picked up the juniors and they were on the road,” Kinsey said. “There are these little things we didn’t think about until we started putting it together.”
Teachers were given written instructions about their roles in the day’s activities.
“We have to have faith in all of us,” Marten said. “We have to make last-minute decisions and get kids where they need to be and trust each other’s judgement.”
The DHS staff responded well to last year’s Future You Day, Kinsey said.
One adjustment made for this year is the teachers wanted to be involved in different activities from last year.
“So we had to figure out a way that we can start rotating teachers around to give them a different experience,” Kinsey said.