Grand Rapids, Michigan has experienced unprecedented tourism growth over the past decade – and that trajectory is expected to continue into the foreseeable future.
With this growth comes exciting new opportunities to build a career in the local hospitality & tourism (HTM) industry. In 2018, Experience Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Public Schools and Grand Valley State University partnered to open a local Academy of Hospitality & Tourism (AOHT). Our AOTH promotes the potential of HTM careers to local students and prepares them to work in a variety of positions throughout the industry.
Established at Ottawa Hills High School (OHHS), which serves the south side of Grand Rapids, AOHT is supported by a national curriculum and is designed to connect the classroom to the workplace. Experiential learning projects and real-world application opportunities expose students to the fields of event management, recreation and attractions, lodging, food and beverage, sustainable tourism and more.
Upon graduation, students can enter the workforce with marketable skills or pursue advanced placement opportunities in Grand Valley State University degree programs, or attend the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. The goal is to help students build a career, not just get a job, in an industry that offers multiple paths to advancement and leadership.
The curriculum has received industry validation from the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership, and the program won the Governor’s Award for Innovative Tourism Collaboration from the state of Michigan.
If OHHS students are interested in taking AOHT classes, they must meet with their assigned counselor to express interest and "rework" their class schedule where electives fit in.