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FRANKLIN -Juniors and seniors at Franklin High School  will be able to gain professional experience in their chosen field before they even graduate through new internship courses that will be offered next school year.

Earlier this November, the Franklin Board of Education approved a number of course changes, including adding a high school internship, a community internship, and a professional service learning course. These classes allow students to further explore their areas of interest and earn course credit along the way.

"Post-secondary education is increasingly expensive," said Franklin Public Schools (FPS) Director of 9-12 Teaching and Learning Nick Kohn. "Our hope is that through these experiences, these students will not only grow as learners and leaders, but also discover whether or not the career area investigated is right for them. In gaining this insight prior to high school graduation, students will be able to make better-informed decisions about their post-secondary path."

In addition to learning more about their future ambitions, students will also have the ability to earn an "Employability Skills Certificate" through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. This certificate would be a "formal way for students to document their employability skills," such as by adding it to their resume.

Though FHS currently offers similar classes for experiential learning such as video production, construction, and autos, these new classes are the first formalized opportunities for work experience that the school will offer, according to Kohn.

In these classes, students will either work in a department within FPS or at a business or organization in the community that provides for workplace learning in an area of student career interest. In one semester, a student will complete 90 hours of experiential learning.

To provide these internship opportunities, FPS staff will work with businesses and organizations in the community to see what they need help with and what they can offer to students.

"Both students and our community partners have told us time and again that these experiences are vital to the educational process. We believe a number of students will want to participate," Kohn said.

At least 64 students will participate in one of these internships, the professional service learning course, or a previously-offered youth apprenticeship course as a part of the InRoads program. InRoads is a four-year program that helps students develop leadership skills, work on academic and employability skills, establish their academic and career plan, and make interdisciplinary connections through team taught project-based courses.

However, the internships will be open to all juniors and seniors at the high school.

"We’re thrilled to be able to provide our students with opportunities to further engage the community in this way," Kohn said. "We’re confident the internship course experience will be one students and the community find to be valuable addition to our curriculum."

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