Students in the district’s various career and technical education pathways got to put their work on display at the first annual Innovation Exposition Wednesday at Lawrence High School.
The 19 career pathways Lawrence Public Schools offer allow students to gain real-world experience in their desired career field. The exposition — which business teacher Kimberly Hawks said has been in the works since last fall — showcased the students’ yearlong projects.
“Our goal as the staff was to give students a way to show off the hands-on projects that they’ve created,” Hawks said. “We wanted to be able to show their parents, the community and administrators what these kids are doing.”
The exposition highlighted work from students at all levels. All pathway students begin in introductory courses before enrolling in the technical level; after that, they’re welcome to enroll in application courses, which offer college credit and real-world experiences with mentorships and jobs.
The pathways are organized into eight Plans of Study: Animal, Plant and Environmental Systems; Arts and Media; Business, Finance, Marketing and Management; Design; Production and Repair; Engineering and Technology; Health Science and Biomedicine; Hospitality and Tourism; and Human and Public Services.
“We have a lot of potential to reach a lot of kids with this message that, you know, in Career and Tech Ed, you learn skills, you have fun and it’s hands-on,” Hawks said.
While some students sat in the hallway working on paintings and drawings, others passed out handmade desserts and snacks. More still played short films and animations, and a few took attendees’ blood pressure and explained the readings to their “patients.”
Rick Liljestrom, a junior, presented his mockup of a hydraulic-powered brace for those affected with spina bifida.
The idea, Liljestrom said, was inspired by his cousin Sabrina, who was diagnosed right after her birth.
Although Liljestrom doesn’t plan to pursue a career in the medical field, he says he hopes to someday see his concept brought to life.
“We solve a lot more problems with less knowledge and more love,” Liljestrom said. “It’s good to know what you’re talking about, but if you don’t love people, or love what you do, you’re not gonna get there. Love is the answer.”
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Chloe Anderson (she/her) contributed to The Lawrence Times from August 2022 through May 2023. She is also published in Climbing magazine, Kansas Reflector and Sharp End Publishing. As a recent graduate of the University of Kansas, Chloe plans to continue her career in photography, rock climbing and writing somewhere out West.
You can view her portfolio, articles and commissioned work here. Check out more of her work for the Times here.