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Partner Spotlight: Rocky Mountain High School's ACE Program

By Jessica Dieken

Partner Name: Rocky Mountain High School

Program Name: Alternative Cooperative Education Program (ACE)

What makes this program awesome: ACE provides work experience, related classroom  instruction and vocational transition planning for high school students with special needs. Students develop personal and career skills preparing them to live and work independently as vital, contributing members of their community. The Rocky ACE program seeks to provide students with the opportunity to try out and build on skills in a variety of job trades. Rocky’s entrepreneurial section of the ACE program is called Rock It. Rock It runs a variety of businesses, including a snack shop, merchandise etching, t-shirt printing and gardening in our brand new Geo-Dome. Through the ACE program, we have been able to teach students through the operation of a Student Based Enterprise. Our new logo and product line was developed by the students. Rock It products are being sold in the community at a variety of locations including Walnut Creek Gallery in downtown Fort Collins. Students were engaged in all aspects of business development including writing the business plan, calculating the financial aspects, and marketing our business. This business is real and students are excited to be engaged in something that makes a difference at our school.

Our program serves students who are often disconnected from the typical high school experience for a variety of reasons. At the end of last school year a young man that I had in class who would often not attend his other classes, told me that the only reason he came to school was to participate in ACE. He wanted to volunteer over the summer even! The first day of school this student was at my door wanting to work in ACE. He was recently trained on the T-shirt press and the software to cut the T-shirts. He has stayed in school and hopes to complete a community internship this spring. Without having the experiences through our new program, I do not believe that this student would have stayed in school.

Thank you to Kim Nygro, ACE Coordinator at Rocky Mountain High School, for sharing your story!