Return to Headlines

Ackerman Students Invited to Missouri Athletic Club

Ackerman students pose for a picture while standing in line to play basketball.

October 16, 2023 - When Gerard LaRuffa, assistant general manager of the Missouri Athletic Club, participated in Ackerman’s career day last year, he was nothing short of impressed by the students' interaction with him. 

“They would circle around and come to my table about every half hour or so, and I would tell them my story and introduce them to the business,” said LaRuffa. “It was awesome. They asked great questions and it was clear that they were engaged.”

Because of this enjoyable experience, those who expressed interest in the hospitality industry were invited to visit the athletic club in Des Peres where LaRuffa works and get a tour of the building. Students were told about the history of the club, spoke with the head chef, and received a behind the scenes look at the kitchen and dining and fitness facilities.” 

“This was a  rare and unique opportunity,” said Jason Betancourt, Ackerman art teacher. “Students could see first hand what it takes to run a place of that magnitude.  They learned about humility, hospitality, and how they present themselves to others has a huge impact on their chance of employment.”

Students were given attendance prizes such as shirts, hats, and water bottles. They were also offered a free lunch and ended the visit by playing basketball. Landon Hughes, a fifth-grade student, said his favorite part was seeing all the different jobs available.

“I would like to work here in the future, but I don’t know which job I would want. It doesn’t matter,” said Hughes. “I just like learning about everything.” 

Terry Oberkirsh, Ackerman teacher’s assistant, appreciated how LaRuffa shared his story of how he worked his way up the career ladder. 

“His first job was at McDonalds cleaning tables, and look where he is now,” said Oberkirsh. “It gives the students a goal and lets them know that anything is possible.” 

While LaRuffa doesn’t expect every student who visited the club to choose the business as their place of employment, LaRuffa is excited about the opportunity to impact even just one student and help them achieve their professional goals.