According to Mishawakaschool.com, Beyond The Cave (BtC) is a special partnership between Mishawaka Education Foundation and School City of Mishawaka that began seven years ago in 2010. The goal is to help School City students to explore and plan for career education after high school. The Beyond the Cave Center is open from August to November and January to March through appointments scheduled through the Mishawaka High School (MHS) guidance department.
Almost 400 pendants hang throughout School City buildings representing colleges. Over 71 different
colleges are represented at MHS. At MHS, it’s a rite of passage for seniors to see their name and school acceptance banners hanging in the halls leading to The Commons. “I’m so excited to see my banners. When I see my banners I’m going to feel so accomplished," said senior Ashley Russo. “It’s crazy to see other people’s banners hang up for three years and now it’s my turn. I can’t wait to see my banners,” said senior Madison Chapla.
In 2014, BtC assisted over 120 families through the Beyond the Cave Center (BtC Center) at MHS, according to Mishawakaschool.com. The BtC Center at MHS trains volunteers to be ready to help students of any age explore career options, plan for college, and expect success.
Brian Baumer, a math teacher at MHS, has been the director of BtC for three years. His job is to meet with parents and students. The meetings consist of sitting down to plan and research a student's path after graduation from MHS. Their path can be either mostly college or work focused depending on the student. “I see kids and parents walk out of our meetings more confident with information that they now have,” said Baumer. Baumer makes a personalized google document for each student he meets with to better prepare them for what they want to do after high school. “ I don’t create the information, I just help families get the information that is already out there,” Baumer explained, “Beyond the cave’s main purpose is to give students tools for planning, like to do lists and scholarship information. My first year of being director there were 71 visitors to the BtC Center, last year we had approximately 111 visitors, three fourths of last years 111 visitors were repeating visitors.”
Students find BtC to be very helpful. “Beyond the Cave makes it a lot easier to find scholarships. Mr. Baumer shows us new sites to apply for available scholarships,” senior Cruz Ward said, “Beyond the Cave helps figure out what is realistic and what is not. All students should take advantage of the program. It's helps more than you would think.”
The word about BtC gets around by students telling other students, parents talking to parents, and guidance counselors recommending the help. “I was told about Beyond the cave by Cruz Ward,” senior Micah Gabler said. “Beyond the Cave helped me. I learned a lot,” Gabler said, "I kinda knew the basics going on, but now I know what kind of scholarships I can look into and how. I would recommend Beyond the Cave to other students because it helps a lot and leaves you understanding things you didn’t [understand] before."