Bozeman High sophomore Camille Garnsey always liked history and English and never thought about a career in medicine, until she ended up taking the school's new elective biomedical class.
Not only has she learned about a range of careers in medicine, but she has been inspired to sign up for a spring break trip to Honduras to work in a clinic.
"My interest in medicine was really spurred by this class," Garnsey told the Bozeman School Board on Monday night.
Principal Rob Watson said Bozeman High is now developing another four-year elective course, called introduction to engineering design, so students can learn what engineers do.
Creating such classes is just one of many steps the Bozeman School District is taking to strengthen students' awareness of different careers and "help them succeed in the 21st century world of work," said Marilyn King, assistant superintendent.
The biomedical class was made possible by partnerships with Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, Blue Cross and Montana State University, which contributed experts, equipment and funding. The new engineering design class is being developed with help from professional engineers, Superintendent Kirk Miller said. If enough students sign up, the school should be able to offer the new class next fall without additional cost to the school budget.
"We need to prepare our students for their future, not for our past," Miller said. The district's goal is to make sure every student is exposed to career possibilities before leaving high school.
To encourage more students to attend college, Bozeman High is also working with MSU's Gallatin College Programs to offer its first dual enrollment class. Called math 145, the class gives students credit both toward high school and college, increasing the chances they'll enter college and graduate.
Bob Hietala, dean of the Gallatin College Programs, said they're working to expand the job-training opportunities. Right now it offers just four programs, in welding, aviation, interior design and design drafting. He plans to ask the Board of Regents in March to approve two new job-training programs, for medical assistants and bookkeepers.
School Board Chairwoman Denise Hayman said trustees are impressed with what the schools are doing to improve career education, particularly the biomedical class. Sophomore Megan Meyer said she was going to take keyboarding, but was glad she signed up for the biomedical elective instead.
"It's so much fun," she said, and now she's considering medical school.
Student Maddie Ekey said students like the class because they get to do lots of hands-on work, like dissecting hearts, and they learn about careers ranging from lab technicians to surgeons from people working in those fields.
"It's just real life," said student Lizzie Gill.
Gail Schontzler can be reached at email@example.com or 582-2633.