Nico Zepp, Corey Smith & Ashlyn Gallagher at WCI's Altaira

ESTERO, Fla. (May 25, 2016) – Suffolk Construction was recently one of 10 local businesses to host a Cypress Lake High School student as part of the Advanced Placement Capstone Academy’s “Community Partner Classroom.”

Businesses from the education, nonprofit, construction, manufacturing, banking and telecommunication industries partnered with CLHS and The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, Inc. to host a student at their company for a portion of the workday to give the student the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of a potential career path. The students put their studies into action by experiencing their community from both a service and career viewpoint.

Cypress Lake Junior Ashlyn Gallagher shadowed Corey Smith, project manager with Suffolk Construction’s Estero office, on Monday, May 23.

During the day, Gallagher got to visit Suffolk’s Altaira®  jobsite – WCI’s new luxury tower of 76 Sky HomesSM in The Colony Golf & Bay Club in Bonita Springs. She learned about the construction process and what it takes to construct a building from the beginning. She also met with members of Suffolk’s management team and learned about the construction industry and career options.

“I never understood how buildings were built in layers, and you have to know so many different subjects to complete construction projects; it is not just building,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher is leader with CLHS’s JROTC program, has diverse interests and aspires to attend West Point.

“It was so amazing to see the excitement the students had for learning about their community and careers,” said Patricia Gair, faculty member of the Advanced Placement Seminar and National Board Certified teacher at Cypress Lake High School. “Many students exclaimed ‘I never knew…’ while discussing aspects of work places like working as teams, managing several important things at once, the complexity of finances and the responsibilities a single person may have in the work place. Another important connection for the day was the students’ observations of both men and women as strong leaders and their work with the community. Students realized that so many of our business leaders also ‘serve’ the community with their expertise in volunteer roles.”

The AP Capstone Academy was formed to give students an opportunity to pursue a rigorous Advanced Placement curriculum and diploma with a support system of peer mentoring, faculty advising, family workshops and career guidance. This program was developed by teachers at Cypress Lake to respond to the growing complexities of pursuing post-secondary endeavors in a competitive, global, technologically advanced society. The program allows high-school juniors who have completed the highest level of instruction by participating in the Advanced Placement Seminar course to explore careers and community service. These students have spent the last year in a class that explored issues and problems that test our community and country, including sustainability, affordable health care, immigration, socioeconomic disparity, censorship, stem cell therapy and more. They have researched, written arguments, created and presented talks on their subjects and defended their work.

Capstone students have varied interests from computer science, health care, business, law, print and broadcast journalism to psychology, social work, graphic design and education. Additionally, the students are open to exploring new avenues of interest that might lead them to further develop their future plans. Through Capstone’s partnership with the professional world, students gain a greater understanding of service and career paths, which helps all of us develop a generation of successful community members.

“We are committed to making a positive impact in our local communities and to our youth through grassroots work like the Capstone Academy,” said Josh Christensen, vice president of West Coast Florida Operations for Suffolk Construction.