Changing the Course

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- During the last two decades, significant changes have been made to classes once taught as Home Economics.

The department is now largely called Family and Consumer Sciences, and classes are more geared toward getting students career-ready.

Chippewa Falls High School is just one local school changing the course of studies by placing a greater emphasis on career exploration to make sure students are ready for life after school.

Brianna Buhrow has always loved to bake.

"Ever since I was little I'd have my Easy-Bake Oven. So it was always something I wanted to do," said Buhrow.

Her dream is to own a bakery, and the Chippewa Falls High School senior is finding out first-hand what it will take to achieve her career goal.

Through the Wisconsin Youth Apprenticeship Program, Buhrow got a job at Goodies Sweet Treats and More Bakery near Lake Wissota.

She's getting work experience and credit toward graduation.

"I think it helped me get the idea of like a real-world experience because I've always wanted to be a baker, but I didn't know what it would be like," said Buhrow.

Buhrow was recommended for the apprenticeship by former Chi-Hi Family and Consumer Sciences teacher and current Career and Technical Education Coordinator Laura Bushendorf.

Bushendorf said the Family and Consumer Sciences Department aims to help students just like Buhrow find their career path and help them get a head start in achieving it.

"And we try to develop courses that will help support those future career opportunities for our students," said Bushendorf.

Courses including medical terminology and health science occupations, which are helping senior Hannah Courter prepare for a career in the medical field.

"It's helped me build a base so now when I go to college, I have some background I'm not going in totally blind," said Courter.

Courter said she wants to be a nurse practitioner, which she decided after hearing guest speakers.

"I met a couple through the class, and they love their jobs and very passionate about it, made me want to do it," said Courter.

Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Ruth Buchner said students need to start thinking about a career sooner than later., and many of today's FCS classes can help provide students with options, guidance, and resources.

"We are looking at careers. We're looking to teach the kids that it's not only the subjects you're taking, you have to figure out what you want to do when you graduate from high school, and you need to start as a freshman," said Buchner.

Buchner and Bushendorf said the FCS courses let students explore what they like and what they don't like in a safe place.

"It helps our kids explore what they want to do now versus later when it's a little too late and can be more expensive," said Bushendorf.

Brianna Buhrow's mom credits the Family and Consumer Sciences courses and the apprenticeship program with giving her daughter a head start on her career path.

"But this program has really made her decide, yes, this is what I wanted to do. And it's made our job easier as a parent to know okay she does want to go on to college," said Nancy Buhrow.

The soon-to-be high school grad plans to attend UW-La Crosse to study business and marketing.

"I'm proud of her. I really hope it all works out for her, and she continues to follow that dream," said Nancy Buhrow.

A dream that's much closer to becoming a reality thanks to the career exploration opportunities available.

The Family and Consumer Sciences classes at Chippewa Falls High School are electives meaning they're not required, and students can pick and choose which ones to take.

Some teachers around the Chippewa Valley said they wish there could be more done with the family side of Family and Consumer Sciences but career-readiness usually takes priority.

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