WHS curriculum offers students options, mentorships 

By Lisa Phelps  lphelps@pcrecordtimes.com 
Posted 3/20/24

WHEATLAND – A high school diploma, then what? Every high school student will answer that question a little differently, so how do you develop a program to meet the needs of all those students? …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

WHS curriculum offers students options, mentorships 


WHEATLAND – A high school diploma, then what? Every high school student will answer that question a little differently, so how do you develop a program to meet the needs of all those students? 

“I think you have to give students lots of opportunities and give them a broad understanding of what is available,” Superintendent John Weigel said.  

Weigel added, while many people come into their careers as adults through a planned path, sometimes fate brings it about.  

“We want our students to be well-rounded when they graduate so they are prepared no matter what they choose,” he said.  

Wheatland High School students have the chance to give their input on what is offered for electives each year with the student-driven method of selecting elective classes. 

Principal Josh Sandlian, who is also the District Perkins Coordinator for Platte County School District No. 1, said in addition to core academic classes such as language, math, science and social studies, students are given a questionnaire in February to create a “wishlist” of elective classes they are most interested in. The data is then run though a computer algorithm to set up a potential schedule of classes, then adjusted to accommodate teacher schedules and other necessary considerations. After the course schedule is built, students submit their official course requests in May. 

“Our programs are stable. We build the class schedule based on the kids’ interests,” Sandlian said, adding that by the end of the process, 92% of the students get everything they asked for in their original requests. 

“We have a great staff - they work hard for the kids. We also have a nice selection of courses and college offerings,” Sandlian said. 

Currently there are 34 sections of study and offering college credit, taught by nine teachers certified to teach the college-credit classes. Over 100 credit hours are being taught with 115 students currently taking advantage of the opportunity and enrolling in one or more of those classes. 

If a student is interested in a specific college class they are eligible for, but there isn’t a concurrent course offered in the high school curriculum, they can choose to enroll in dual-enrollment classes. In the dual enrollment, a study hour would be worked into the student’s schedule where they would be taught online by teachers at Eastern Wyoming Community College in Torrington. 

The college credit classes, whether dual enrollment or concurrent enrollment, are paid for by the school district through a Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) grant that pays the tuition fees. The classes are also made possible because of the Wyoming Department of Education’s cooperative educational program and in coordination with EWC. 

“If kids work hard and the courses line up, students can graduate with 20-30 credit hours if they want. That’s comparable to the first year of college,” Sandlian said. 

The school offers introductory through advanced courses in agriculture, industrial arts, culinary and home economics, foreign language and business. 

The ag classes offered include technology and welding, and progressive agriculture classes in which students can work with the FFA program, including judging, agronomy, soils, ag business, and farm/ranch business topics. 

The industrial arts program has three courses from basic woodworking to cabinetmaking and a carpentry class. The carpentry class has worked as a team to build projects for businesses in town, and students have gone in person to job sites in the community, for instance, to become more familiar with the process of how a house is built. 

There are three culinary classes: an introductory class where students are given freedom and latitude in what they prepare as they learn the procedures and nutrition involved in cooking or baking. The Culinary Arts class alternates yearly between International Foods and Pro Baking where students delve deeper into cultures and techniques necessary to be successful in culinary careers. The teachers even organize a cooking competition similar to Food Network’s popular “Chopped” series. 

Child development classes offered at WHS cover information from birth through teenage years, and in the second semester offers field experience as teacher assistants or aids at Libbey Elementary and various preschools.  

“That allows them to see different styles of teaching and different kinds of programs,” Sandlian said. 

The business classes not only have college credit and dual enrollment options, but also many internship opportunities. 

“From accounting and personal finance, macro-and micro-economics, marketing, career development and intro to business, we offer college credit for all but the marketing class,” Sandlian said, adding through the mentorship program: if a student has a job already, they can earn up to three credits if they turn in their paystubs. For every 200 hours, Sandlian said the school can recognize one elective credit. 

If a student is interested in any type of career, the mentorship class allows students to mentor under a professional wherever their interest lies. Some students have chosen to mentor with a lawyer, accountant, teacher or medical professional. 

“It’s a pretty impactful opportunity,” Sandlian said. He explained, aside from personal experience as a Wyoming High School graduate who benefited from a mentorship himself, “If we can get them interested and exposed to [their area of interest] in our school or community, it gives them the chance to see what it is really like to do the job as a career.” 

“A fun part of it is that we work with the kids and help them get the classes they need for their chosen future,” Sandlian said. 

“We’re looking to increase internships in the school and community because they give students an opportunity to observe and know the career field a little better,” Weigel said. “At the junior level we look at in-district opportunities, and at the senior level students can be off-campus. The experience is geared to allow the student to see what the job is about – not just the overall concept,” Weigel said. 

Some kids know what they want to do with their life after graduation; others don’t. Through quality educational classes, post-high school credit opportunities, mentorships and the opportunity to explore different careers, Sandlian said the administration and staff at the school are dedicated to making sure each student is well-rounded and prepared for life after graduation. 

“Our goal is to celebrate with all our seniors on their choice of a job. Whether they choose to go into the military, go to college, or directly into the workforce, it’s all important. It’s a big accomplishment and we want to prepare them for their choice,” Sandlian said. “Along the way I hope they will have a built a strong academic foundation and learn it’s important to have a good work ethic, accountability, to be respectful and a positive contributing member of our society.”