SHS to host community forum, introduce volunteer program

High school getting new tool to help boost Career and Technical Education class experience

On Dec. 3, Sequim High School will play host to a community forum for their Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in order to help introduce the Skillmation program and educate the community on what exactly the CTE program does for students.

Sequim High CTE director Steve Mahitka and Sequim consultant Kaye Gagnon, who frequently helps the program, will lead the forum at 6 p.m. in the SHS cafeteria, 601 N. Sequim Ave. They’ll be there to help educate those in attendance on what classes the CTE program offers — and more importantly to show how individuals and businesses in the community can support the program.

Mahitka and Gagnon will introduce Skillmation, a system that allows people to list skills and experiences in specific fields on a website where teachers, parents and students seeking mentorship and assistance can easily find them.

The program has had success in Port Townsend, school advocates say.

“It’s the easiest system for finding mentors or class speakers or anything like that that I’ve used,” Mahitka said of Skillmation.

“Other systems (the school district) has had are just lists of volunteers with little other information; you’d have to call them all to see what they can do and if they’re even interested in doing what I need. This is so much simpler.”

One of the best features of Skillmation, Mahitka says, is that volunteers can also list exactly what they’re willing to provide for assistance — be it full-on mentorships or something less intensive like classroom talks or simpler communication.

“That flexibility for the volunteers and specific information for teachers or students is a huge help,” Mahitka said.

The Sequim School District is still in the early phases of integrating Skillmation, though, given the program’s success at with Port Townsend High School’s CTE programs, Mahitka doesn’t expect the process to be complex.

“Right now the biggest thing we need to figure out is integrating their services into our website smoothly,” he said.

As the program matures and progresses in Sequim, Mahitka expects the school district could offer training for volunteers.

For now, Mahitka says, there will just be the usual background checks performed by the school district and orientations on the basics of volunteering through Skillmation, but he said is planning a more formalized process as the department adds volunteers.

“Really, this forum is about introducing Skillmation to the community and starting to populate that volunteer list,” Mahitka said.

“I don’t want students looking up the field that they’re interested in and getting discouraged from pursuing it because there’s no one there to talk to. The rest will come with time and experience.”

SHS also recently hosted a similar forum the morning of Nov. 13, and this upcoming forum will cover much of the same material.

“We knew the morning meeting wouldn’t be as well-attended,” Mahitka said. “We wanted to give people interested in helping with this multiple opportunities to attend.”

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