ST. CLOUD -- The St. Cloud Area School District is looking to expand one of their newest programs after a successful launch.

Exploring Potential Interests in Careers (EPIC) started in September for students at the ninth grade level.

Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Lori Posch says the program came together after the district met with businesses in the community for feedback about graduates entering the workforce.

We met with our business partners and said what do you need? What should our students come out of school with? One of the things that we heard over and over was exposure to a lot of different careers and the soft skills that are necessary for them to be able to take into any business and any career.

The program is three trimesters long and was modeled after the Minnesota Department of Education career wheel. Students spend six weeks each exploring career options in business, agriculture, art and communications, engineering, health science, and human services.

Assistant Superintendent Laurie Putnam says the expansion will make it available to more students but is about more than just enrollment.

We want to expand it not just in terms of the number of students who take it, but also the number of community partners and businesses, field trips, and the number of mentors who come in and talk with our students.

The program helps students know what their options are and what next steps they should take to get there whether or not they pursue a post-secondary education.

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