State Superintendent Tony Evers' tour spotlighting Career and Technical Education Month made a stop at Oak Creek High School Thursday morning.
The visit gave Evers the chance to see first hand several of the school's CTE programs, as well as the students and teachers in the center of them.
He also got a "taste" of a major OCHS success story—Knightro Fusion soda, the student-made and student-marketed project that has graced the shelves of Woodman's, Pick 'n Save and other local stores.
The cherry-vanilla soda garnered a lot of community attention when it was released last year, and before 2012 was done, retail sales . Students are now preparing to launch a second flavor, Orange Cream, at the Taste of Oak Creek on March 7, though they gave Evers a sneak peek Thursday.
The soda project combines the work of advanced placement chemistry students, who produced several variations of a new flavor, and marketing students, who came up with a label, conducted focus groups and will write a press release.
The school also worked closely with Black Bear Bottling on the soda, one of several partnerships highlighted in Evers' visit Thursday. Besides Black Bear, representatives from Caterpillar Global Mining and Wheaton Franciscan were on hand and discussed their work with Oak Creek students.
Amy Malingowski, Caterpillar's community relations manager, said the company is trying to ensure it will have the talent it needs in the future. So it has worked with the school on welding programs and the STEM academy at its South Milwaukee plant to help change perceptions on manufacturing.
Wheaton Franciscan, meanwhile, spotlighted its participation in the Strides program, which gives students with cognitive disabilities a chance to build their skills and resumes. Students come to the hospital to perform tasks such as making beds, doing dishes and cleaning.
In addition, the hospital works with Oak Creek and others on a certified nursing program. Every year, the consortium of schools graduates 162 students ready to work in the health care field.