Since the vast majority of Lapan students are the first in their families to attend college, most come with limited knowledge of how to navigate the complexities of the college admission process. Some come from families whose roots are in Mexico and are unfamiliar with the culture and practices of the American system. One of the vital services the Lapan College & Career Club provides is to coach students through the process: helping students to write a winning college essay, apply for FAFSA and scholarships, meet the college application deadlines, avoid the pitfalls of predatory lenders and the temptations and travails of the life of a college freshman. Lapan students and families can schedule personal appointments at the Lapan Center with a college and career advisor who will help them walk through the minefields until they attain their college degree and successfully find a career in their field. Workshops and meetings for students and parents are held throughout the year at the critical moments of transition.
After watching a ten-fold increase in the number of Wakefield students attending college suddenly flatline after three years, the Lapan College & Career Club realized that to continue to incentivize more students to attend college it would be necessary to address the needs of B and C students who were not benefitting from the "$50 for every A." The CAP program targets B and C students at the middle school level by inviting them to be mentored by top-performing "A" Lapan high school and college students who are trained to mentor these students using a month-by-month curriculum guide addressing among other things: monitoring weekly assignments, time management, personal organization, the creation of a Professional Portfolio, community service, leadership, career exploration and personal goal setting. The strength of this program is the focus on the personal relationship of trust through one-to one weekly sessions at the Lapan Center.
One of our goals is that each Lapan College & Career Club student develop a Professional Portfolio. Initiated during their 6th-grade year, students update and add to their Portfolio in successive years throughout high school and college. Beginning with the creation of a résumé, students identify areas of weakness in their résumé which then can be addressed in the next five years as they approach the college application process. The Lapan Portfolio supplied to students contains nine focus tabs with activities and record sheets where students can collect and aggregate evidence of their efforts, especially in the areas of leadership, community service, and career exploration. Students also collect certificates and samples of their best work, along with letters of recommendation, college and scholarship research, etc. Ultimately it is a tool for students to think strategically about their future and make decisions that will augment their chances of attaining their college and career aspirations.
In response to the growing demand for college graduates in STEM-related fields, the Lapan College & Career Club launched the Robotics program in 2015. Students learn to build, program and operate robots, in the process integrating principles of physics, chemistry, and engineering, as well as the use and safety of basic shop tools in the Lapan "maker space." Founded initially by a Wakefield alumni who was an engineer at Raytheon, the program continues to recruit volunteer mechanical and electrical engineers from industry and University of Arizona students to be instructors and provide the content. The program is hands-on and project-based. In the spring students compete in a battle-bot competition using robotic vehicles they have designed and created.
Building on a partnership with the storied Fox Theatre in downtown Tucson, the Lapan Theatre Troupe creates dramatic plays and videos during the month of June, culminating with a final performance at the Fox Theatre for the benefit of the entire community. All Lapan students are welcome to participate. Students write plays, perform, create sets, shoot videos and create multi-media performances. Perhaps the most successful performance was the play "Bill" (presented first as a play and then as a film) based on the true story of Bill De La Rosa, one of the Lapan College & Career Club's star students. The Lapan College & Career Club greatly values the arts and is delighted to make available this unique opportunity to our Lapan students.
Lapan College & Career Club students will learn to create beauty, tell a story, and share a feeling. They will play and experiment with ideas and art techniques to help find their style as an artist. They learn how to make those ideas into tangible objects that they can give to others. Students will learn to talk about their art and present ideas as a personal brand. Learning from an instructor like Eva Murzaite will give our students a chance to see and experience how other artists create their work, see their workspaces, and talk to them about their experiences. Our students will be engaged in conversations that will allow them the chance to see and participate in how art is formatted, displayed and sold. Another exciting piece of this class is learning entrepreneurial skills on how to earn money by making art.