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West Jordan Journal

Clubs prepare students for real world (and out of this world) problem-solving

Sep 11, 2023 01:55PM ● By Jet Burnham

Itineris Early College High School students Carter Limb and Kaydence Roach experiment with algae in various conditions to find a feasible additive to allow crops to grow in Martian soil. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

During after-school clubs offered at Itineris Early College High School, students are learning to change the world, affect the environment, run a business, excel in a high tech career, make a positive impact on others and grow crops on Mars.

“Per our school policy, all of our clubs must be tied to academics,” Director of Students and Facilities Jeff Bossard said. “The advantage the clubs offer is a way to connect what students learn in class to the real world.”

School clubs include National Honors Society, Future Business Leaders of America, Environmental Science Club, Bio Builders, Latinos In Action, HOSA, SheTech, yearbook staff and esports club.

Kaleb Sparks began his education at Itineris three years ago with a goal to take advantage of all the opportunities available. That’s how he ended up president of both NHS and FBLA clubs during his senior year.

He knew extracurricular activities would look good on college applications (he earned a scholarship to BYU), but he also chose to get involved because an older student told him he would enjoy his high school experience more if he did.

He took that advice and got involved in the school community, which helped him make more friends. Participating in club competitions helped him develop interpersonal and leadership skills.

“What I've tried to learn is how I can take the skills that I learned in these competitions and apply it to whatever field I choose to go into,” he said.

This spring, at the induction ceremony for new NHS members, it came full circle for Sparks.

“I remember looking out and seeing our new members and I remember thinking about the ‘me’ of two years ago and how I had wanted to be involved,” he said. “I sat in that chair two years ago, and now I'm here, sitting at the front. It was just really meaningful to me to see my dream come to that fulfillment.”

Carter Limb, who is a senior this year, headed up last year’s Bio Builders Club project based on his out-of-this-world idea for a solution for growing crops on Mars.

“I simply thought that if we can utilize simplistic organisms, like algae and fungi, on the soil that's already there, we could potentially make it so it's a suitable kind of pseudo soil,” he said.

To test Limb’s theory, club members used the school resources and lab equipment, many of which high school students normally don’t have access to, student Kaydence Roach said.

“I’ve been figuring out how the equipment works, and preparing myself on how to do research and to see patterns in how everything works,” Roach said, who hopes to explore a career in biology, pathology or psychology.

Bio Builders Club Adviser Randy Booth encourages students to pursue their interests, and with the local growth of the biotech field, prepares them for biotech jobs.

“There's a strong workforce need here locally, so there's been a lot of effort to recruit students and to get them trained,” he said. “This is one of my attempts to try and get students excited about it, without the stress of tests and assignments, so they can get into it and see that it's fun, and then that will, hopefully, motivate them to continue.”

Booth is also the adviser for the HOSA Club for students interested in health care professions. At HOSA club meetings, students learn from guest speakers in various health fields and organize regular blood drives. They also prepare to participate in competitions that give them experience in various healthcare skills.

SheTech is a new club this year, which Bossard said will “offer an opportunity for our female students to have a comfortable space to explore careers in the tech world and put their skills to work on real-world projects.”

Itineris is a free public charter school, whose principal, Renee Edwards, was recently named as the Utah Charter Network Principal of the Year. λ