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The Rapid City Pathways Approach (RCPA) is the effort underway to bring career pathways into RCAS schools, as well as build strong connections to employers, institutions of higher education, and community-based organizations. This work began in June of 2018 under the direction of the Pathways Task Force; whose members include educators, community, and business leaders in partnership with the National Center for College and Career Transitions (NC3T) with funding support from the John T. Vucurevich Foundation.

The purpose of the Rapid City Pathways Approach is to equip our students with the knowledge and skills they need to explore career options in high school. This approach will help students develop a plan that leads graduates to a successful transition beyond high school including postsecondary education and training, careers, and life responsibilities.


The RCPA entails three areas of work:

  1.  Building strong connections with employers, institutions of higher education, community-based organizations, and families;
  2. Creating a K-12 approach to career awareness and exploration; and
  3. Enhancing our course offerings by developing pathways programs for our students.

The RCPA will help student begin to think about their future by giving every student career-connected learning opportunities. Through the RCPA, we eliminate the ‘one size fits all’ model and provide students with a more personalized approach to college, career, and life readiness. This allows for intentional and meaningful coursework, exploration, and conversations around your student’s goals.



We know you want your student to be happy, have goals, and to succeed in school and life, so why the RCPA?

  • Students will gain the knowledge and preparation needed for postsecondary planning. This includes access to financial planning mechanisms to support their goals.
  • Students also experience stronger relational connects as they learn with a cohort of peers in a sequence of courses and extracurricular activities relevant to their career goals.
  • Students will have the opportunity to explore and try out career options in a low-risk, cost-free environment.
  • Students will have the chance to develop important employability skills that matter in the workplace like ethics, professionalism, problem solving, and teamwork


The Academy Structure

RCAS Academies

RCAS will offer several pathways organized into six academies that are not only tailored to our regional needs, but also address national and global workforce opportunities. Each academy will include two or more career pathway programs.Academies line


An academy is a small learning community organized into one or more pathways that includes career-connected learning and provides students with increased personalized attention.


Career Pathways

A pathway is a course of study housed with one of six academies (high school graduation requirements will be embedded) offered in our two comprehensive high schools and, in some cases, in partnership with institutions of higher education. When fully developed, each pathway will include two or three courses organized around a career theme and offered in a planned sequence of courses that move from general knowledge to deeper skills.

Within an RCAS Academy, a student will take:

  • An Academy Introductory Course;
  • A Pathway Foundational Course;
  • An optional Specialized Pathway or Capstone Course; and
  • Electives, including Fine Arts, World Language, Physical Education, and Special Offering courses.



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Tips to Support Your Student’s Career Exploration

Families have a large influence on how their student thinks about careers. Here are a few important topics to discuss with your student:

  • Career exploration is important;
  • High school is perfect for career exploration, not making a final decision;
  • Keep career and education options flexible; and
  • Career navigation is a lifelong journey.


In addition to the ideas above, here are additional ways you can help to support your student’s career exploration.

Connect with your student’s School Counselor Talk to a school counselor and ask about what your student’s identified interests are and what kind of activities and opportunities you should encourage your student to pursue.
Find resources When you find out the career areas that your student is exploring, try to find books, magazines, websites, or videos that might support that interest.
Uncover career contacts Brainstorm if there is anyone you, your friends, or your family members might know that work in the career field your student is interested in. When you start asking around, you might be surprised the contacts you discover.

In whatever career field your student wants to pursue, building a network of contacts is an important skill and it is a great way to learn about a career and to find jobs.

Stay involved during the course selection process Check out the RCAS Course Selection Guidebook to see what kind of elective courses, clubs, and activities might relate to your student’s career interest.
Earn early college credit Encourage your student to enroll in early college credit through Advanced Placement (AP) courses at their high school and/or explore program offerings at any of South Dakota’s postsecondary institutions offering dual credit related to your student’s career interest. This is a great way to earl college credit and further career-connected learning.
Encourage your student to participate in a service or work-based learning opportunity RCAS offers job shadow, youth internship, and community service learning experiences that provide students with hands-on learning in their career field of interest. Encourage your student to take part in these opportunities to further their exploration and gain exposure to potential future employers.



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