Waukee CAPS: The Game Changer


Lieutenant Governor of Iowa Kim Reynolds with Waukee CAPS students.

Vivian Le, Reporter

Waukee celebrated the successful launch of the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) on Tuesday, October 21st. Business professionals and educational leaders noted that the Waukee CAPS program takes the cake for being one of the greatest achievements of the Waukee Community School District. The celebration marked a milestone in the growth and innovation of the district. The exponential growth in Waukee has no room for anything less than state-of-the-art; according to experienced professionals, Waukee CAPS excels at providing students with hands on learning opportunities.

Students from Exploration of Health Science and Medicine served tasty snacks and conversations for business professionals and visitors.

“CAPS is a collaboration between business and education in the community, and it’s an opportunity for students to explore areas of interests that support the economic trends in our metro area and state. An opportunity for innovation and creativity,” stated Waukee CAPS Executive Director Chris Bergman.

Waukee CAPS launched the start of their program at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year with roughly 120 students in enrollment. CAPS offers many different strands to students: Financial and Insurance; Business, Technology, and Communications; Engineering; and Human Services. Within each strand, students can apply to take whichever course they feel best suits their interests.

Waukee CAPS enable students to network and collaborate with business professionals, giving them experience and an a competitive edge when they do decide to enter the professional world. Des Moines University, DLR Group, Shive-Hattery, FBL, Principal Financial Group, Wellmark, and MidAmerican Energy are just some of the many business partners collaborating with CAPS.

“To learn and experience the world, you have to do it through other people’s eyes in addition to your own,” Peg Armstrong-Gustafson, Business Development Director of Waukee CAPS advised. “Students will be able to explore some unknown qualities and abilities that the projects will coax out of them so that they discover more about themselves.”

The CAPS celebration kicked off at 7 PM and started in the auditorium of the high school where a formal presentation was given. The presentation provided an opportunity for students to receive insight in relations to business and education from keynote speakers Jim Masterson, CEO of LightEdge Solutions, and Kim Reynolds, the Lieutenant Governor of Iowa.

Following the formal presentation, attendees went into the commons where Waukee CAPS students stood at their food stations. Each food stations’ theme pertained to a specific strand in the Waukee CAPS program and displayed the achievements of each strand so far in the program. Helping serve a variety of hors d’oeurves, the students were available for conversations about their experience in the program. Current students of Waukee CAPS had the opportunity to present their projects and accomplishments to parents, teachers, peers, administration, and even the Lieutenant Governor of Iowa.

Waukee CAPS students from the Designing Communications Solutions strand.

Waukee CAPS students spoke about their newly claim professional and technical skills they obtained in their time with the program. Aspects which Bergman and other Waukee CAPS officials claim can be polished or produced through the Waukee CAPS.

“Personally, CAPS has helped me grow as an individual. It’s helped me become more comfortable putting myself out there,” shared senior Sydney Ehlinger, “I use to be a reserved individual, so it’s really pushed me to become a professional.”

“Their professionalism has just soared,” Waukee CAPS instructor Michelle Hill stated. “Being immersed in the industry, they are networking and collaborating with business professionals at an expertise level that many students don’t get to experience otherwise.”

Waukee CAPS officials expect to double in numbers to 240 students for next year as new strands will be added on. “We’re very excited. We’re in the midst of trying to get student voice data as far as what are areas of interest within our strands,” shared Bergman. The strands provided are determined by the economic trends and what the market’s needs as far as careers, but students ultimately are the determining factor for which strands are in and which are out.

With many accomplishments already seen just in the first term of the school year, the school board, students, parents, and teachers wait with enthusiasm to see what else comes from Waukee CAPS.


Consideration is underway for these following programs:

– Advanced Manufacturing

– Big Data

– Bioinformatics

– Foundations of Banking and Investment

– Foundations of Bioeconomy

– Global Agriculture and Life Science Systems

– Global Food Industries

– Global Health

– Programming Solutions for Business

Students can help plan courses for next year by taking a survey at http://tinyurl.com/CAPSCourseInterest1516