U-46, Alignment Collaborative for Education offers virtual event for eighth graders on October 7


Over 2,500 eighth grade students and teachers from the U-46 School District in the Elgin area will participate in a virtual version of “Explore 2021” on Thursday, October 7.

The annual district exhibition is designed to expose students to various careers and demonstrate the connection between the university program and future careers.

Traditionally, Explore took place in a large sports arena. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event for the 2020-21 school year took place virtually. The feedback has been so positive that the organizers have decided to keep it as a virtual field trip for this fall, with students participating via Zoom webinars from their classrooms.

“Explore 2021 promises to be an engaging and personalized way for our eighth grade students to explore careers and industries and meet community professionals specializing in these areas of employment,” said the Superintendent of U-46, Tony Sanders. “Regardless of the format, Explore is always an important part of our efforts to strengthen our work around educational pathways that will serve students in both college and career preparation.”

Before attending Explore 2021, every eighth grade student used Naviance – a digital college and career planning system – to find out which career groups match their interests and abilities.

Using this information, they worked with advisors to select up to six career exploration sessions on October 7.

Each session will be moderated by a representative of the industry and will present several career options within this industrial cluster.

College counselors have also created pre-lessons and a post-lesson so students better understand how their career exploration, interests, and ideas can be applied to their courses at U-46 as well as the planning for their future.

Parents of eighth graders were invited to attend a webinar on September 23 to find out what their kids will experience during Explore 2021.

The webinar was recorded and can be viewed in English and Spanish on the district’s YouTube channel.

Alignment Collaborative for Education, a local nonprofit organization that brings together community resources and initiatives to support district priorities, once again partners with U-46 to host the event and has recruited professionals, businesses, local organizations and educators to shine a light on careers representing a wide range of industry clusters, from business to building sciences, engineering to education, and healthcare to hospitality.

“Explore is an introductory career exploration opportunity that begins a holistic approach to preparing students for college and careers,” said Nancy Coleman, Executive Director of Alignment. “We are very grateful for how our businesses, organizations and non-profit partners have come together to support this virtual event in the most creative way possible to provide something special to our students.”

Starting this fall, Alignment plans to host quarterly career panels for high school students, as well as college and university admissions events featuring representatives from the 12 top-attended universities. U-46 students.

The Community Advisory Council, then known as the Citizens Advisory Council, helped the district launch the first exhibit in the 2015-2016 school year.

The Alignment Collaborative for Education has since helped expand the exhibit, first as a weekend event at Elgin Community College, and then in 2018 and 2019, as a school event at the former Sears Center.

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