Wine country radio

The HHS internship program recently received a Golden Bell Award. Here is HHS student Jose Gonzales interning at “Wine Country Radio” while in the program last year.

Program recognized by California School Boards Association

Healdsburg High School’s Junior Internship Program has received a prestigious Golden Bell Award, by the California School Boards Association (CSBA). The program was named a best practice in the Career Technical Education category.

The award recognizes the high school’s internship program that connects students with local businesses in engaging consulting projects. The Golden Bell Awards have been going strong for 35 years and symbolize honor and the finest practices in education throughout California.

“The Golden Bell Award recognizes the strong connection and beneficial collaboration between Healdsburg Unified School District and our local community,” said HUSD Superintendent Jeff Harding. “Now in its fourth year, the program has grown from a pilot project to a rite of passage for our students. The Junior Internship Program plays an intrinsic part in achieving our goal of preparing each student for college and a career.”

Healdsburg High School’s Junior Internship Program connects approximately 150 students with 80 local businesses. Every Healdsburg High School junior is in the program, including Marce Becerra Academy students, said Internship Program Coordinator Shelley Anderson. Each student collaborates with their workplace mentor for six days (two days a week for three weeks) on a goal-oriented project that utilizes the student’s skills and interests. Past projects included designing a website and establishing a social media presence for a local restaurant, creating a Healdsburg bicycle guide, building a computer from spare parts and developing budget, rationale and timeline recommendations for planting a .33 acre vineyard.

“I’m excited that people can hear about how great Healdsburg High School is and how innovative our programs are here. We don’t just go along with the status quo; we’re thinking outside of the box to make it the best experience possible for our students. I’m proud to be a part of it, and I know what a great school it is, so it’s nice to be acknowledged,” Anderson said about receiving the award.

Anderson said that the internship program fulfills a need that is very real in the work world.

 “I come from the work world, I owned a business for 20 years, and I know the level of employees who were coming to me was just not what it should have been because students are not getting the soft skills training. A program like this gives them soft skills training and real world experience; it puts them so far ahead of other students. It’s a very innovative program and it’s been applauded not just by the education world, but by the actual work world,” Anderson said.

Board of Trustees President Judy Velasquez said that the Junior Internship Program strengthens Healdsburg’s school-community connection.

“Our community has gained an appreciation for our students’ talents. Through our students’ application of classroom learning in the real world, they are better able to understand how their studies prepare them for life beyond graduation,” Velasquez said.

While the internship projects happen during the students’ junior year, program preparation begins during the freshman year career and college planning seminars. The program concludes in a student presentation to a panel of local business leaders, HUSD staff and career mentors.

Anderson thinks that the internship program will probably become a graduation requirement in the near future.

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