Lee's Summit Journal

Students from 3 local Lee’s Summit high schools gain insight into manufacturing jobs

Students from Lee’s Summit North High School learn about the diverse career paths open to them at Polytainers, a plastics manufacturer in Lee’s Summit.
Students from Lee’s Summit North High School learn about the diverse career paths open to them at Polytainers, a plastics manufacturer in Lee’s Summit.

Manufacturing isn’t what it used to be

If you listen to political talk these days, you might think that the manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy is on life support. And if you believe stereotypes, you’d think all those jobs are repetitive and boring.

But that’s not so, as students from three local high schools learned Oct. 4 when they toured Polytainers or ULTRAX Aerospace as part of National Manufacturing Day. The young people were from Lee’s Summit North High School, Summit Christian Academy and St. Michael the Archangel Catholic High School, all in Lee’s Summit.

“What many people don’t realize is that manufacturing today is not what it was 50, or even 20, years ago,” Tina Chace, director of business development for the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council, said in a news release. “Employers are now looking for technologically capable candidates to innovate, design and operate cutting-edge machinery.”

One national report predicts a shortage of nearly 3.4 million skilled technical workers by 2022, in part because of an aging work force and an emphasis on four-year college degrees. National Manufacturing Day is supported by businesses nationwide that want to change students’ and parents’ perceptions about manufacturing companies.

The Lee’s Summit North students toured plastic manufacturer Polytainers, where they learned about molding, labeling and quality control.

Company official Glenn Watson said manufacturers offer a wide variety of career paths. Polytainers, he said, is committed “to providing a work environment in which creativity, job enrichment and diversity are celebrated and rewarded through compensation, rewards and recognition programs and personal development opportunities.”

ULTRAX Aerospace, which creates technologies for aircraft and fleets, hosted a group from Summit Christian and St. Michael’s.

“We look forward to National Manufacturing Day every year,” said ULTRAX President Troy Prewitt. “The students are smart, talented and eager to learn. And it gives ULTRAX a terrific opportunity to demonstrate the kind of quality and craftsmanship that could attract tomorrow’s workforce.”

The Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce and the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council helped coordinate the event.

The Lee’s Summit North students were accompanied by Michael Hilbert, who coordinates the R-7 district’s Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program.

“A day like this will go a long way to helping them to focus their career choices,” Hilbert said, “and provide them with a sense that they are more prepared to succeed than they might expect.”

Football community unites

Football rivalries can get pretty intense, but the Blue Springs School District has found a way to forge unity in the week leading up to the contest between the Wildcats of Blue Springs High School and the Jaguars of Blue Springs South.

Community Unity Week is a district-wide effort to gather canned food, other goods and money for the Community Services League, which assist people in need.

The district collected 64,458 items this fall, the most ever. Out front was Voy Spears Jr. Elementary School in Lee’s Summit, which gathered a new single-school record of 12,065 items. The large total for Voy Spears was due in part to kindergartner Leilani Elliott, who rallied her friends and family members to collect items — and used her birthday money to buy food, too.

R-7 gathering more input for spring ballot issue

Leaders of the Lee’s Summit School District expect to present a ballot proposal to voters next spring that would finance new construction and renovations needed to carry out initiatives adopted as part of a two-year facilities planning process.

Already approved by the school board is a recommendation to move sixth-grade students out of the elementary schools and into middle schools, starting in the fall of 2022. Planners have said that would require a fourth middle school.

Although public meetings have been held already, the district said it has hired the Patron Insight firm to gather more information about what’s needed. The company will conduct a community telephone survey; create online surveys for parents, staff and community members, and interview key opinion leaders.

The surveys can be taken through midnight Oct. 18 at www.surveymonkey.com/r/2019LSR7CommunitySurvey. One response is allowed per device.

District administrators also are visiting every school to hear about needs that haven’t been captured during the planning process.

College Night is Oct. 21

Students from all Lee’s Summit R-7 high schools — as well as those attending other area schools — are invited to the district’s 32nd annual College Night the evening of Oct. 21.

More than 100 institutions will be represented, including military and trade-specific schools. The event is scheduled for 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Pavilion at John Knox Village, 520 N.W. Murray Road in Lee’s Summit.

All grade levels are welcome, the district said, but juniors and seniors are especially encouraged to attend with their families. Pre-registration is recommended at StriveFair.com.

SCA artist grows in summer program

Summit Christian Academy senior Danielle Dean returned to school this fall having grown as an artist and painter by attending the George Caleb Bingham Academy of the Arts over the summer.

The free five-week program, sponsored by Independence School District, offers advanced instruction to students in music, theater, art or creative media, which involves writing. Dean participated in the visual arts section.

Students must apply for the program. A semester’s fine arts credit is awarded to all students, and some are eligible for dual college credit through MCC-Blue River.