Letting Off Some Steam

Letting Off Some Steam

‘Steam 20-20’ program helps ready students for college, careers

Featured In The Victor Valley Daily Press

By Davida Siwisa James

April 18, 2013 | Apple Valley, CA


Pat Schlosser is an alumnus of Apple Valley High School and taught there before becoming principal five years ago. He proudly showed off the programs that are better at preparing students for college and careers, now with the active support of business leaders through Apple Valley Unified School District’s new Steam 20-20 Program. Schlosser described the school’s comprehensive nature of both college preparatory programs and the huge variety of career-technical programs. He emphasized that the career programs are classes from which all students can benefit. “We have a former student at Stanford in medical school who is in biodesign,” Schlosser said. “For the first couple of years, they would use grinders and drill presses, and he didn’t know what he was doing. He told us he wished he had taken shop.” All the feedback, according to the principal, from colleges, businesses and alumni indicates it’s critical to give students hands-on experience to augment book learning. The school is teaching students the core curriculum standards in a theoretical and academic way, but also in a practical and applied way. And many of them have internships at businesses. “We have a medical and health sciences academy,” Schlosser said. “We wrote another grant and started a computer and media pathway. We have welding, auto shop and wood shop. We are opening precision machining next. And this is a shop with some visionary decisions by school leadership.” The principal spoke about some of the aerospace and other manufacturers in the High Desert that aren’t able to hire many local machinists. “They are hiring folks who are driving long distances up the hill to take very good paying jobs because we are not producing any qualified machinists,” Schlosser said. The principal showed off the two new, state of-the art computer operated Haas lathe machines the school purchased. “ I t’s exactly the machines you’d see if you went to Scott Turbine Mixer,” Schlosser said. “We had a $95,000 grant from the county board of supervisors because this is absolutely what the industry needs so they are not hiring machinists from another county.” Schlosser said the great benefit of Steam 20-20 is the community connections with the businesses, which are central to each of the academies. They’re forming partnerships with Victor Valley College as well. “The students have to design the item first in the computer program,” Schlosser said of the new Haas machines. “They have a rapid prototyping machine where they can design something, print it in plastic and make sure it works before they build it.” Casey Penfold teaches the Agricultural , Industrial Engineering and ROP Welding class. “The students are totally engaged in what they are doing,” Casey Penfold said. “They are getting to work with their hands. They have a state of-the-art shop to train in and get ready for the workforce.” Kyle Ryan was working on a metal outdoor table he had designed and built. “I just got accepted to Long Beach State,” Ryan said. “I may go for a side job in a fabrication company while I’m in school. But I want to study something in the medical field.” Senior Miranda Mraz, president of the school’s Future Farmers of America club, had her arms fitted in gloves inside a sandblaster. She went from cleaning metal to showing off the pigs, sheep and cattle in the pens. “The students get loans or use personal funds to pay for the animals and the feed,” Mraz said. “It’s basically to teach them about business and keeping records.” Schlosser said the students take a four-year animal science pathway that culminates in veterinary science or agriculture business careers. “I am going to a trade school or Santa Monica College for welding,” Mraz said. “I want to be a weld inspector. Inspecting is not as hard on your body. You just check everyone else’s welds.” In the medical sciences academy, students were learning how to put a backboard on a car crash victim in a classroom that was a replica of a hospital room. “This is an emergency first responder’s class,” instructor Angie Dawson- Walker said. “The students earn high school credit, as well as college units.” Duane Penfold showed off the new hydroponics system in the greenhouse. “These are all grown in a volcanic ash material,” Duane Penfold said. “We’ve pulled out all our lettuce. Over there are strawberries, cucumbers and tomatoes.” In each area of the school, the teachers and administrators apply for grants to fund the programs. Everywhere, recycling is critical. In every academy, there are business partners with whom they collaborate. “We want to make them college and career ready,” Schlosser said. “That is the whole focus.”



PHOTOS BY JAMES QUIGG, DAILY PRESS WELDING CLASS: Nathan Zimmerman works on turning horseshoes into a pencil holder in a welding class at Apple Valley High School.


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FIRST RESPONDER CLASS: Students in a first responder medical class, part of Apple Valley High School’s Steam 20-20 program, practice strapping a patient in supports as they would at a traffic collision scene. The class is part of a series of courses preparing students for careers in emergency response.

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