COOL Week at Leander ISD


Four LISD seniors walk up to a crime scene. They group together and begin to seal the area off with caution tape. While one takes pictures of the scene and another takes blood samples, the third prepares the evidence and the last dusts for fingerprints. After a week of training, the students interning at the Jonestown Police Department utilized their new found skills to investigate their very own mock crime scene.

“This experience allowed me to get a perspective of what forensic science is really like,” Vista Ridge High School senior Alex Bundy said. “It is not glamorous like it is on television. I really enjoyed this week, but the mock crime scene was my favorite part. I like taking blood samples and fingerprints.”

While students enjoyed an extended five day weekend and teachers attended conferences, a group of seniors across Leander ISD used their time off to expose themselves to their chosen career environments. The seniors spent February conference, Feb. 4-8, working as interns with the profession of their choice.

Career Opportunities on Location (COOL) Week was established in 1999 by Charles Rouse, a previous Leander High School principal. The program is designed to allow students to spend one week working with professionals in the workforce. The week gives students the experience and knowledge they need for future careers. The students were able to choose where they would be going based on interests they have for their future. Some of the interests included interning at Jonestown Police and Fire Department, KVUE News Station and National Instruments.

“They get experience and exposure plus they get to find out what we do on a daily basis,” Jonestown firefighter Jared Truair said. “They get to see day to day life, not just when we’re on calls.”

COOL Week gave students an opportunity to see what their career choice looks like in the real world. The students who interned at the Jonestown Police Department attended a court session, visited various task force offices and even took a trip to a morgue.

“I got interested in forensic science because of a TV show, Castle. It’s my favorite show,” Leander High School senior Iris Ortoga said. “My favorite part of the week was when we got to see dead bodies at the morgue and also see the tools coroners use for autopsies.”

Students who were interested in careers in computer science, were sent to National Instruments. There, they attended lectures, shadowed engineers and formed small groups to build and program their own robots. At the end of the week, the robots competed in an obstacle course.

“One of the high points was when you finally get your robot to complete a task, you get this rush of joy and your whole team gets very excited,” Vandegrift High School senior Steven Thompson said.

Students expanded across Leander, Cedar Park,and Austin, while some even went as far as Houston to participate in the COOL Week program. Regardless of the situation, each location taught students something they can apply to their everyday lives.

“It is an exciting experience for the kids,” LISD Transition Administrator Camille Clay said. ‘At every site I’ve ever done they are able to make connections that help to solidify what they want to do when they leave us. It’s a beautiful, magical and powerful thing.”