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Butler Tech begins first-in-Ohio program taking students out of classrooms

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Posted at 11:20 AM, Feb 07, 2020

For the first time in the history of Ohio schools, a local career school system is turning the work world into a classroom for more than 1,200 high school students, according to the Journal-News.

Butler Tech’s much-anticipated “5th Day Experience” starts today as local high students travel out across the region to spend their school day not in classrooms but in internships, job shadowing, volunteering, community service, part-time jobs, college visits and on-campus self-improvement programs throughout Butler, Warren and Hamilton counties.

Teens at Butler Tech, which enrolls students from all Butler County public schools and from northern Hamilton County’s Northwest Schools, are the first in the state to have the option of spending each Friday through the rest of the school year exploring the real work world.

“With our 5th Day Experience, students can access over 100-plus options … including college tours, driver's education, welding, State Tested Nursing Assistant, martial arts, ACT prep, cooking classes, hip hop education, volunteering in the community and personal finance, just to name a few,” said Jon Graft, superintendent of Butler Tech.

“There is even a class to learn how to create a patent,” Graft said of the many on- and off-campus learning options available.

Bus and shuttle transportation is provided to those students needing it to and from the workplace and other locations.

Butler Tech senior Raphael Baez, who is enrolled in the career school’s construction technology program, enjoys being part of an educational experiment. He will be learning first-hand at a construction site in Fairfield.

“I’m very excited, because I enjoy working,” said the Monroe teen. “I get more hours and I get to learn more and further my career.”

His Butler Tech instructor, Clem Skinner, is almost as hyped about the program as his students. He knows the importance and motivation teens can derive from a school day spent working in the real world.

“I’ve been in career tech education for 26 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Skinner said.

“We get to have students go out and do some enrichment stuff off campus … things they wouldn’t normally get to do, and they get to learn about it and do it at their own pace.”

Ally Donahue, a theater student at Butler Tech from Fairfield, said the “5th Day Experience will let me unleash my possibilities and go out and see the world instead of just staying in my little arts bubble.”

“We (Butler Tech students) are so excited to experience something like this. And we are so excited to go out there and get our feet wet in any industry we would like to and it doesn’t have to be in our major,” said Donahue.

The high school senior said she is looking forward to “making some connections and network before it’s time for us to graduate.”

Joe Hinson, president and CEO of the West Chester-Liberty Chamber Alliance, praised Butler Tech for being the first in Ohio to try the experiment, calling it “a forward-thinking opportunity for students to take control of their future.”

“This educational model will allow students to grow outside the normal classroom setting through varied real-world learning experiences that can be as unique and different as they choose,” said Hinson.

And it helps local companies and industries, he said.

“Having our students participate in this innovative program will also benefit our businesses by providing a more well-rounded future employee. And our students can gain valuable insight to our local business community and make key business connections that may interest them in staying local, instead of moving elsewhere once they graduate,” said Hinson.