Creative, driven and contagiously cheerful: the eight Knights Academy high school students who took part in Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs (MAAP)’s STARS Spring Events Conference let their talents shine. The two-day event was held in Bloomington April 14 and 15, consisting of 375 competitors from alternative learning programs all across the state.
Knights Academy students each participated in at least three events, and they spent 10 weeks working on their projects, which all related to problem solving, management and life skills and public speaking. Future career aspirations also played a big role, and each student completed a career portfolio including their resume and letters of recommendation for their chosen careers, which ranged from a chef, architect, veterinarian or coach.
Students were evaluated and projects judged by local business leaders.
The areas of competition ranged from job interviews, product demonstration, video/audio production, team parenting, human relations and team management, among others. For many of the challenges, the individual or teams were presented with a problem, and they worked to determine possible solutions and outcomes that could result from each of these solutions.
“Out of the 375 competitors, each of the eight students from Knights scored in the top 30 percent in at least one event, with several scoring in the top 20 and 10 percent,” said Knights Academy teacher and advisor Mike Metcalf.
Senior Lake Balgobin and junior Sarah Hakel took home sixth and third place, respectively, in human resources. Balgobin also received fourth place for her job manual.
Many STMA teams placed near the top in their team parenting challenge, audio/video production and others. Hakel, Jaden Setterstrom, Hector Alvarado and Joe Hower created a video on their school that they hope to polish and put up on the district’s web site.
One STMA student, Austin Dobson, completed his product demonstration using the computer program Google SketchUp on how he would like to see an alternative school composed. Representatives from Jennings Alternative Learning Program in St. Paul liked his project so much that they invited him to their school to show them how to use the program.
Some of the goals of MAAP are to help students make informed career choices, develop a desire for life-long learning and foster a cooperative spirit through this spring competition and other events for students in alternative programs, and it seems like this conference hit the nail on the head.
“I think it sets you up for the real world, showing you what it actually feels like,” Dobson said.