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STURTEVANT — Opportunities. That’s what Case High School sophomores were seeking Thursday when they toured Goodwill Industries’ outlet store and massive warehouse at 1630 Enterprise Drive.

Twenty-eight students enrolled in Racine Unified’s Business & Information Technology Pathway were shown the machinations of Goodwill Industries’ behind-the-scenes operations: from outlet sales to transportation to community outreach to working the warehouse floor.

All 9th-grade students in Racine Unified get introduced to different pathways: Business, Family & Consumer Science, Health Sciences, and Technology & Engineering.

After picking their pathway, sophomores get exposure to potential avenues for future careers. Part of that is through site visits.

“We’re providing a forum of areas of expertise … we want to give them a glimpse into their future,” said Ron Tatum, the director of supply with Goodwill. “We want to show people the difference they can make.”

Last semester, students saw industry in action during a tour of Modine Manufacturing Company. Now they’re seeing another side of business, where current students could one day end up making a career.

When Tatum, a 1987 Case graduate, spoke with students, almost every teen raised their hand when he asked: “Who wants to make a lot of money?”

“Throughout your journey, in this thing called life ... we all want to make a lot of money,” Tatum told his audience. “But it’s just as important to align yourself with a strong corporation with a strong mission and a strong vision.”

Most of the students attending Thursday’s event weren’t aware of Goodwill’s work outside the retail stores, such as providing food services for Navy servicemen and women; workforce training in health care, banking and numerous other industries; and recycling more than 80 million pounds of textiles yearly, keeping that weight out landfills.

“Goodwill exists to make a difference in people’s lives and the communities we exist in,” said Peter LaBonte, director of performance excellence.

Tatum said that the supply chain is considered the second-fastest growing industry in America, behind only nursing — a surprise for some who hadn’t considered it as a career path.

There’s more than meets the eye. That’s something sophomore Will Alfredo says he’s discovered on a large scale through the Business & Information Technology Pathway.

“I’ve realized that we’re really offered a lot of things,” Alfredo said, standing inside Goodwill’s more than 200,000-square-foot warehouse.

Angela Cervera teaches English and has been working at Case High School for the past 12 years. She is one of the leaders of the Career Pathways programs, and pointed out that even if a student isn’t particularly engaged in a certain site visit, they could still benefit from observing a potential career path.

“It would be great if they could get experiences that will lead them to a future life path, but it can be just as important to figure out what they don’t want to do,” Cervera said. “A lot of our kids don’t know what opportunities they could have.”

“Throughout your journey, in this thing called life ... we all want to make a lot of money ... But it’s just as important to align yourself with a strong corporation with a strong mission and a strong vision.” Ron Tatum, Goodwill director of supply

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Adam Rogan (SCHS '14, Drake U. '17) has been covering homelessness, arts & culture and just about everything else for the JT since March 2018. He enjoys mid-afternoon naps, loud music played quietly and social media followers @Could_Be_Rogan

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