In May 2017, the Affton School District received an award from FOCUS St. Louis for fostering regional cooperation. The district was recognized at the 20th annual What’s Right with the Region celebration. Affton received the award for expanding their CAPS (Center for Advanced Professional Studies) program to include other school districts and business partners across the region. Affton has been the driving force behind the formation of St. Louis CAPS, the first and only multi-district program of its kind in the region. Affton and St. Louis CAPS were honored to be recognized by FOCUS St. Louis and have enjoyed telling their story to over 50 school districts from 5 states that visited during the 2016-17 school year.
St. Louis CAPS provides juniors and seniors in high school the opportunity to fast-forward beyond college to test-drive their future in high-skill, high-demand careers. This means that for three hours during the school day for an entire school year students are immersed in a professional workplace, under the supervision of a teacher, where they learn directly from entrepreneurs, nurses, engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc. St. Louis CAPS is aligned to local economic needs and emphasizes professionalism along with vital job specific knowledge and skills.
Affton created new synergy with local business partners in the areas of healthcare, engineering, and global business by asking a simple question, “What can our CAPS students do for you?” In other words, we ask for projects or trouble spots business partners want to address but can’t find the time. The positive results of CAPS were immediate and led to increased interest from the business community and other high schools. In its second year, the CAPS program expanded to include more high schools and business partners while also being rebranded as St. Louis CAPS.
Affton has emerged as a leader in regional collaboration by inviting other area high schools to join the network they established with the business community. By encouraging partnerships among high schools, this highly specialized opportunity is more efficient and effective to operate. Students receive high school and college credit, complete internships, and over 90% of CAPS students go directly to four-year universities. More importantly, they enter the next phase of their post-secondary journey with enhanced confidence and a network of professionals that provided them a robust, real-world experience.