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Keystone program offers college and career readiness

Ray Freeman, Uyen Tran, and Dylan Parker


By CPSD Communication Intern Rebecca Costa


Dorothea Jackson has enjoyed exploring the different opportunities her future can offer through Sumner Hill Junior High School’s Keystone program.


“I didn’t know that the things I do right now can affect what I do in three or four years,” said Jackson. “I really love it to be honest, it is really fun to me.”


Keystone is a career and college readiness course for ninth graders. This introductory course includes content in self-development, career clusters, pathways, and choices, as well as financial planning. The students learn multiple transferable skills that prepare them for interviews and potential job positions in the future.


Sixteen career clusters make up the Keystone program. Some of the careers the students are exposed to include agriculture, engineering, marketing, hospitality, and construction.


They recently finished their “Move to Learn” gallery walk where the students researched an occupation and had to design and present a lesson plan over it. Now they are focusing on the architecture and construction career cluster.


The project for this career cluster has the students design a floor plan and then vote on the floor plan they would want to be built. Once a floor plan is selected the Keystone instructor will assign the floor plan to another group in the class to build so they can see if they are able to follow the blueprint from the other group's design.


This project has the students stepping into the role of an architect, contractor, carpenter, interior designer, and landscaper in this project.


Sumner Hill student Harmony Sandle’s favorite skill learned from the Keystone program came from job shadowing where she learned how to properly fill out job applications. “I really like that we were taught step by step on how to put in the right thing so that we can actually get the job,” she said. She also enjoyed learning how to stand out from other applicants.


Many of the projects the students undergo are student led. When the program first began, the students helped develop the projects. This has made it easier for current students to stay interested and invested in the course work.


The students take learning and personality tests at the beginning of the school year to learn which jobs they are most compatible with. The personality test allows the teachers to match students together that have opposing personalities for projects.


“We do expect confrontation,” said Crystal Gray, College and Career Readiness Department Chair for Sumner Hill. “You have to learn how to get the job done while still working with people.” This teaches the ninth graders how to work through adversity and challenges.


Throughout the seven years that the Keystone program has been implemented at Sumner Hill, they have taken various field trips. They have toured the Agricultural program at Mississippi State, the Grammy Museum in Cleveland, the Air Force base, and the Nissan manufacturing facility.


At the end of every school year, a poll on the program and its courses are taken by the students. “We want to continuously keep improving the course,” said Gray. She hopes that the students are genuinely learning and growing from the program.