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People Making a Difference

Waukee APEX Program

A group of local high school students are making a big difference at On With Life while earning high school and college credits. Their program, called Aspiring Professional Experience (APEX) at Waukee High School, is an innovative approach to education designed to give high school students hands-on, real world experience by working with local businesses on projects and experiences.

"On With Life provides a unique experience in the sense that they provide direction, but allow us to get creative with the projects," said Meagan Greteman, senior APEX student. "The experience at On With Life is extremely rewarding because 
our work will directly help persons served."

The Ankeny campus projects included archiving historical documents, researching ideas for functional signage and artwork and developing plans for an amphitheater and rain garden to be built on the new therapeutic sensory grounds.

"The staff makes you feel like you aren't just doing a project, you're making a difference and you're part of their family," said Meri Brick, junior APEX student. "It doesn't feel like a workplace, it feels like a home, a family."

According to Holly Showalter, APEX instructor, working on an authentic project for a business is more beneficial to the
students' understanding of a particular career field than a lecture based or book based education tool. The organizational and professional skills learned will also place the students ahead of their peers in terms of finding an internship or gaining full-time employment.

"I've grown so much in my mind and heart because I have been given such a great opportunity at On With Life," said Shaye Witte, senior APEX student. "I believe this experience will forever change our lives."