CADDO HILLS – Caddo Hills High School officially opened their Natives Supply & Company store last Thursday with a visit from Arkansas Congressman Bruce Westerman and State Senator Larry Teague.
Congressman Westerman, who represents the Fourth District of Arkansas in the House of Representatives, visited the school as part of a tour of his district during a lull in congress’s schedule. State Senator Larry Teague was also on hand for the tour.
The students, staff and administration of Caddo Hills were on hand to welcome congressman and the state senator, as well as several local officials and business persons.
Roseanna Markham, Mayor of Norman, Paula Porter of Blingz, Jeanz and Thingz of Glenwood, and Pat Smith, author and Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce board member, were also present to greet Congressman Westerman and State Senator Teague when they arrived.
Justin Neel, business and technology teacher at Caddo Hills, led the tour after a short meet and greet was held in the high school lobby.
Students led Congressman Westerman and State Senator Teague through the halls of their school to Will Squire’s class where they got a chance to show off their engineering department.
Congressman Westerman, who has a background in engineering, seemed right at home among the gears and sprockets students were working with in their robotics class.
Neel and Squires briefed visitors about Project Lead The Way curriculum used in the engineering department. Project Lead The Way is a three year program which begins with introduction to engineering and includes principles of engineering and aerospace engineering.
Squires also discussed the schools 3D printers and the benefits it provides the students and their education. He also presented Congressman Westerman with a desk organizer that his class had made with their 3D printer.
The tour then made its way to the agriculture building where Bradley Hartwick discussed the schools new arc welder equipment. He had a piece his students had cut with the new equipment.
The group found their way back to the main building where they stopped by the family and consumer science class where Karalee Black discussed some of the things her students were working on regarding healthy diets.
Congressman Westerman finished the tour in the newly opened Natives Supply & Company store.
The store is the brainchild of teacher Justin Neel. The store is manned by students who are responsible for every aspect of the business from finances to marketing and merchandising. Neel stated that while there weren’t a lot of opportunities for students to go to work for large corporations in Montgomery County, there are opportunities for small business growth. His desire is to see the school store prepare students to become small business owners.
Congressman Westerman expressed his admiration for what the students and staff were doing with the business, pointing out that they were on the cutting edge when it came to programs like Natives Supply & Company. The Congressman did some shopping after the presentation, purchasing a Caddo Hills Indians t-shirt.
The students took the opportunity to include Congressman Westerman in their ribbon cutting to officially open the store to the public. The Congressman posed for selfies with students and then they cut the ribbon.
When asked what he thought of Caddo Hills School District and what they are doing to prepare students for the workforce, Congressman Westerman stated, “It is very impressive and addresses a need I see as I travel around the district.”
He explained that employers in the Fourth District are struggling to find qualified applicants who have the soft skills as well as the technichal skills to fill positions. Congressman Westerman added that he was impressed with how Caddo Hills is preparing students to fill positions available in the workforce.