Brownwood ISD students are thriving in their post-high school occupations. While this stems from various rationales, students are proving to be prepared for “after” because of the programs available during their years at BISD. Brownwood High School exhibited some of their efforts and assets at the recent second-annual Business Industry Trade Showcase (BITS). “We saw a lot of growth from last year,” said Assistant Principal Lindsay Smith. “In only one year, we added two additional tables – a table to highlight principles of technology (a fundamental physics class), and also a table for the 3M/TSTC mechatronics partnership that will begin later this spring.”

The showcase filled the BHS student center on Monday, February 24th, as students, teachers, and community partners connected over recent Career Tech Education (CTE) projects. Eighth-grade students from Brownwood Middle School were invited as well, to see the future opportunities available to them in high school. The CTE program offers classes such as culinary arts, principles of hospitality, photography, welding, architecture, health sciences, agriculture, computer science, audio-visuals, pharmacy tech, anatomy and physiology, education, mechatronics, physics, and business. Over half of the BHS student body were involved in the planning and implementation of the showcase, from sending out invitations and calling local businesses to personally invite them, to planning the menu, preparing hors d’oeuvres, displaying their work, and meeting with attendees. “All of our kids, to some extent, were involved in this,” said Assistant Principal Lindsay Smith. “They might not all have been there that night, but they have been getting projects ready, contacting businesses, and inviting them. They have been getting ready for it in the classes all year.”

Students demonstrated skills they currently develop in class at their trade tables. They presented projects as well as built up relationships with community partners. “This was a chance for our students to make a connection with businesses in our community where they can go and seek employment,” Smith said. “One student noticed how, in addition to the physical invitations, personal phone calls reminded businesses to attend. We’re building those soft skills students need to practice regularly.” Clear communication, strategic connection, and purposeful preparation. The BITS showcase combined all these concepts and displayed them in a tangible demonstration, and with the growing number of options available to BHS students, it becomes clear why Brownwood ISD is a “District of Choice.” Students can graduate prepared to enter the workforce, or choose to move on to college where they will be more prepared—a point recently highlighted during the February School Board meeting. BISD Superintendent Dr. Joe Young noted a portion of the Texas Academic Performance Report (TAPR) that included student grade point averages after their first year in public colleges and universities. Dr. Young noted that Brownwood ISD graduates show a higher average than other districts in the area; statistically, BISD students are graduating better prepared for college.

The BITS showcase illustrates the broad opportunities for learning available to BHS students, for those who will go on to college or those who will utilize other career pathways. “We prepare kids for life after high school, including the kids who go into a trade,” Smith said. “This opens up doors for kids to see themselves in different careers,” Smith said. “It opens up doors for students to get internships later on. In smaller communities, kids have a tendency to say, ‘There’s nothing here for me. After I graduate, I’m not coming back.’ But it’s good for the community to cultivate those potential employees and potential leaders who could come back and invest in our community if they knew there was a place for them. I hope this continues to grow, and kids continue to get more invested in it, and that our community as a whole gets behind it.”