Despite a loss for the Grand Rapids Drive pro basketball team, a recent game against the Austin Spurs provided a winning opportunity for Kent Career Tech Center students.
Students in the graphic communications program got to photograph the game alongside professional photographers, while criminal justice students led the flag ceremony and assisted security at The DeltaPlex Arena & Conference Center.
“It was so exciting to see my students sitting next to professional photographers at the game,” said Kim Westdorp, a Tech Center computer graphics instructor. “Having a real-world experience, and the opportunity to ask questions and talk with the photographers, was priceless.”
“It feels like real-life work, like a job I would love to do,” said Abby Downing, a graphic communications student from Lowell Area Schools, between snapping shots of the game.
Tech Center Principal John Kraus, who helped tend a booth at the game, said the school’s relationship with The DeltaPlex has provided a great opportunity for students. Some, such as criminal justice students, are doing full-on internships, while others participate in one-night activities such as photographing the game.
“It’s good for our students that are here,” said school secretary Kim Nyson. She helped Kraus and other administrators promote the Tech Center by passing out coupons for use at the school’s bakery, restaurant, and automotive department. At halftime, the Tech Center’s promotional video was played on the big screen for the crowd of an estimated 1,700-plus.
Real Learning, Real Rewards
The students involved said they were excited about the opportunities the Tech Center provides, with experiences tailored to their career interests. “They put you right out there, teaching you everything you need to know,” Abby said. “It’s really great.”
Criminal justice student Jonathan Shereda said his internship doing security work at The DeltaPlex has led to an upcoming summer job with a private security company. “It’s given me the leadership role you need and communications skills to talk to anyone,” Jonathan said of his studies.
For Matt Schievink, the internship is the first step to fulfilling his dream of becoming a police officer. From the start, Matt was determined to get a good position in the security squad and to thrive during his time at the Tech Center.
“My goal (at the games) is to be the eyes for the security professionals also working,” said Matt, who has risen to the ranks of supervisor for the 16-student crew. Attributing much of his motivation to his father’s encouragement, he added, “I always had a passion to be a police officer, since age 4.”
For graphic communications student Carrie Rister, who also attends Kent Innovation High and Rockford Public Schools, photographing the game was a perfect complement to her instruction. “This is really real-world experience,” she said. “I’ve never done anything like this before so it’s awesome.”
After the event, computer graphics instructor Westdorp said the opportunity for the students was all-in-all a success. “They had fun and have some great photographs for their portfolios, and an experience they will never forget!”