Ron Apgar admits he’s no morning person.
It’s no coincidence that the Paint Your World business that he and his wife own in downtown Oak Harbor doesn’t open until 11 a.m.
But Apgar was up bright and early last Thursday, joining about 30 other business leaders who attended a 7:30 a.m. breakfast event hosted by Oak Harbor Public Schools and Superintendent Lance Gibbon.
“This is early,” Apgar said with a smile. “But it was definitely worth getting up for.”
Gibbon, in his second year as schools superintendent, couldn’t recall the Oak Harbor Public Schools putting on such an event before.
He wanted to provide an opportunity for business leaders to come into school facilities and become better acquainted with school district developments and goals and share in some of the successes.
“We see you and your investment in our schools as critical,” Gibbon said.
The gathering took place at Oak Harbor’s Administrative Service Center and was catered by the high school culinary arts program’s Wildcat Catering.
Gibbon emphasized the importance of building partnerships with local businesses and creating a reciprocal relationship where the schools do their part to offer their support in return.
He pointed to the 14th annual Art Walk downtown April 22-27 as one example of such a partnership. During that time, elementary school students’ artwork will be displayed in downtown businesses.
He said the high school’s Key Club has more than 100 students dedicated to volunteer opportunities in the community.
“We’re looking for other ideas and other ways in which you can partner,” Gibbon said.
Gibbon boasted about the high school’s nationally-recognized culinary arts and NJROTC programs and spoke highly of the high school’s robotics, choir and career tech education offerings.
But Gibbon didn’t do all the talking.
The high school chamber choir sang and two high school students who’ve excelled in career tech programs spoke.
One was Kai Ahner, who is in his fourth year of taking metal fabrication courses and is two years into a community project at Fort Casey State Park using plans that date back more than a century.
The other student speaker was Patrick Punch, who sang with the choir and also is part of the Wildcats’ state champion culinary arts team that is headed to the National ProStart Invitational April 18-20 at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.
“The CTE classes have really changed my life,” said Punch, who’s planning to attend a culinary arts school
“We have a lot of opportunities I don’t think every school gives.”
Gibbon pointed out that such opportunities keep some students in school, adding that it was the music program at his high school was that was his primary motivator.
He said that more than 200 high school students are earning more than 1,400 college credits in the first year of a program offered through Central Washington University, and that 21 career courses are being offered that are aligned with community colleges.
Gibbon shared that the 82 percent of the students in the Class of 2014 had graduated and the goal is for that number to climb to 90 percent by 2016.
Jeff McMahan, store manager at Oak Harbor’s Walmart, said he enjoyed attending the school district event put on by Gibbon.
“He’s a people person,” said McMahan, who has three children in the Oak Harbor schools.
“I’m impressed with what Lance is doing with the schools,” Apgar said.