Last Thursday, Nov. 6, West Ashley High School principal William Runyon invited members of the local business community who work with WAHS on a regular basis to come to the school as part of a “Business Partner Round Table” and to see what things the students are doing and how the local businesses are playing a role in making them happen.
The WAHS WATER Wildcats Team (environmental research program) and Culinary Arts program teamed up to create a sustainable seafood sampling that included shrimp and grits, crab bruschetta, fish tacos, and more. With each course, students spoke about harvesting the seafood and how it was prepared.
The Charleston County School District’s Work-based Learning Partnerships Coordinator Chad Vail spoke to the guests about the district’s Career and Technology Education (CTE) program, which is designed to empower students with 21st Century Skills for optimal college and career readiness. State recognized CTE programs are offered in every high school in Charleston County. Students concentrating in CTE programs have a 90 percent graduation rate compared to an average national graduation rate of 74.9 percent.
West Ashley resident and former S.C. State House rep Jimmy Bailey spoke about his youth entrepreneurship program YES Carolina. Baily spoke about former WAHS basketball star Dekeiya Cohen and her winning first place at the Mark Motley Foundation State Business Plan Competition. Cohen now plays for the Baylor University girls’ basketball team.  Bailey also used current WAHS student Jerome Smalls as an example of success. Smalls was named Youth Entrepreneur of the Year for the Carolinas in 2011 while at Zucker Middle School.
“West Ashley High School is determined to increase its involvement within our own community and we are striving to better our business relationships to become a true community school,” said Runyon who not only challenged local businesses to get more involved with the students and the school but also asked how the students could help their businesses.

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