June 17, 2017
How can students graduate from Wakulla High School certified to jump right into a career and/or pursue college or technical school in a specific field at no cost to them or their parents? Two avenues offer these opportunities: Career and Technical Programs (CTE) and Dual Enrollment (DE).
Wakulla High School students earned 533 industry certifications through CTE courses of study during the 2016-2017 school year. That is the most in WHS history, and 62 more than last year’s 481.
Add in the 81 “Microsoft Office Specialist” certifications earned by Riversprings Middle School and Wakulla Middle School students, and it totals 614 industry certifications for 2016-2017.
Industry certifications are earned from learning the coursework and passing tests from the state, like Florida’s “Certified Nursing Assistant” licensing, or the Florida Automotive Dealers’ Association “Certified Technician”. Other tests can be from a national or international company such as Microsoft. These certifications are recognized by employers in that field, and often lead to jobs where students know enough to jump into the work right away.
“When I look at the trend data,” states Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “In 2009, WHS students earned 23 industry certifications total, all through the WHS Medical Academy. Today there are opportunities to earn industry certifications in all 11 of the CTE programs. We take the attitude that we are preparing students for life after high school, not just handing them a diploma at the end of four years.”
CTE Programs of Study offered by WHS, all with industry accepted certifications, include: Medical Academy, Engineering Academy, Culinary Arts, Carpentry, TV Production, Automotive Maintenance, and Welding. Under the Business Education category, there are four programs: Digital Design, Business Management and Administration, Medical Administration Specialist, and Web Development.
There are also more programs open to high school students at Lively Technical Center at no cost while students are in high school, such as Aviation Maintenance Technology.
“These CTE programs offer students the chance to learn many skills that can lead directly to employment after high school graduation; to certificate programs in postsecondary schools like Lively Technical Center; and/or to college degrees,” says WHS Principal Mike Barwick. “We have students come back all the time and tell us how they got better jobs right out of high school or they worked their way through college at much higher paying jobs because they had industry certifications that qualified them to work for more than minimum wage.”
Students can start as early as middle school earning industry certifications. The 81 Riversprings Middle School and Wakulla Middle School students who earned “Microsoft Office Specialist” certification took the high school credit course “Digital Information Technology”. They can use this course to meet their high school CTE graduation requirement, or go on to take the rest of the courses in one of the Business Education fields at WHS as this is the intro course to CTE programs Digital Design, Business Management and Administration, Medical Administration Specialist, and Web Development.
The Dual Enrollment program is also a way for students to prepare for life after high school. These Dual Enrollment college or technical school credits also count as high school credits towards graduation. Wakulla High has Dual Enrollment agreements with Tallahassee Community College, Lively Technical Center, and Florida State University.
“Students can earn college or technical school credits before they graduate from high school at no cost to students or parents,” notes Pearce. “We had at least 9 seniors graduate this year already having earned their A.A. degrees from TCC. They’ll be entering college as juniors and maybe not have to be burdened with huge student loans to repay when they are starting their careers.”
For the 2016-2017 school year, 131 Wakulla High Dual Enrollment students took over 300 college or technical school courses.
“Many students take us up on more than one of these opportunities,” Barwick says. “For example, they might graduate industry certified in the Engineering Academy’s ‘Autodesk Inventor’ software, and also have Dual Enrollment college credits in math and science. We try to make students and parents aware of all the opportunities and combinations of opportunities available to them.”
Students who complete a CTE program, or who are close to completing one, can also work in that area while in high school, earn credits, and get paid for their On the Job Training (OJT) experience.
There are also opportunities to earn Florida Bright Futures Scholarships and local scholarships that can help pay for further schooling or technical training.
For more information about CTE courses and Dual Enrollment opportunities, contact WHS Dean of Student Services Priscilla Tucker at (850) 926-2221. Or contact Sunny Chancy, Chief Academic Officer of Wakulla County Schools at (850) 926-0065.