Community Conversation Unites Businesses, Students

Community Conversation Brings Business Leaders and Students Together
Posted on 10/07/2019
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40 students gathered after the Community Conversation with the WCL Chamber Alliance and business leadersWhat happens when you fill a room with business leaders and high school students? A conversation that bridges the gap and benefits both groups.

Lakota Local Schools partnered with the West Chester Liberty Chamber Alliance to host its second community conversation between local business leaders and high school students. “We believe in providing real world learning opportunities for our kids,” said Superintendent Matthew Miller. “Partnerships with the Chamber Alliance and the business community are crucial to making that happen.”

More than 100 professionals and students filled Liberty Center’s Sabin Hall to learn from one another. “As a business owner I think it's important to invest time in students,” said Michelle Moody, publisher of Lifestyle Publications. “Students provide a unique perspective and opinions that most companies aren't currently capturing. These students are our future workforce and it's important that we help prepare them for what will be expected of them in their careers.”

The school board’s listening program, now in its eighth year, brings community members together to have an open dialogue about specific topics. This conversation provided an opportunity for participants to share perspectives and learn from one another. “I personally just love the energy and enthusiasm that students bring and I find it personally uplifting to spend time with them,” said Moody.

Topics ranged from the benefit of learning from failure, to staying grounded under pressure, to being a well-rounded person. “This valuable exchange of opinions, ideas and knowledge left the group wanting for more – more opportunities to interact with one another,” said Joe Hinson, President and CEO of the Chamber Alliance.  

The final question turned the discussion toward the future and reasons why these young adults would want to return to West Chester and Liberty townships when it comes time to start their careers. Senior Maddie Prohaska is proud to be a student at Lakota West and looks forward to being able to return to the area for her career. “The passion that Lakota has...and the amount of pride that (comes) out is the coolest thing.” 

Alexes Church, a Lakota East senior, said the education she is receiving is a top reason to return. “Lakota is doing an amazing job in the progression that we’re making in the innovations. I really feel it’s helping students. Students are able to go in with their passions now and able to find things that are able to adapt to that.”  

The district continues to build relationships with area businesses, creating partnerships that will benefit both sides. The district hired a strategic partnership coordinator Katie Bauer last year to do just that. “We want a strong partnership with our business community to provide real world learning for our kids,” said Miller. From guest speakers, to project mentors, to internship hosts, the possibilities are endless. Bauer is making great strides, playing a key role in increasing business partnerships from 20 to more than 230 in just one year." 

Hinson sees the value in partnering with Lakota and encourages others to do the same. “I left our recent community conversation feeling fortunate to be part of such a vibrant and inspiring community. Bringing business and education together is what model communities do. We recommend that even more of our Chamber members, business and community leaders take the time to participate in our next community conversation.”