High school classes are usually comprised of basic core classes such as math, reading and science, but what happens when students are able to receive training and start their careers while in school?
The Lafayette School Corporation purchased the building that formerly housed Lafayette Life Insurance and turned it into a high school.
The Greater Lafayette Career Academy had its grand opening on Aug. 28 and welcomed over 180 students. Juniors and seniors from Jefferson, Oakland, Harrison, McCutcheon and West Lafayette Jr./Sr. High School still take classes at their high schools, but they spend a part of their day at the academy for training in their intended career path.
There are two blocks for training that students can choose from: 7:45-10:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Students can receive training for either construction, education, culinary arts, criminal justice or health sciences. The education students take classes at the academy once a week, and the other programs meet for three class periods each weekday.
For the other four days, the education students are sent to facilities and places where they can practice their skills and gain hands-on experience. They also have programs that are off-site, including cosmetology and medical services programs.
“They have classroom responsibility. Real-world experience — that’s what I like to call it,” said Jay Davis, assistant director of career and technical education for the GLCA.
Seniors in the second-year health science class, which part of the Certified Nurse Assistant program, are able to work at a healthcare facility. At the end of the program, they’ll have earned a CNA license.
Students in the culinary program also have an modern kitchen. There are TV monitors for each station where the teacher can play videos, show websites or display their own work station, so students do not have to stress about turning around while cooking or having piles of papers from recipes.
Currently, they have advanced technology in place with interactive monitors, whiteboard desks and desktops where virtual reality glasses can be implemented. However, the facilities are not yet complete. They are 50-60% done with renovations, and the second phase is being developed currently and is set to finish in 2021.
They will also be opening a restaurant in the school which will be open to the public. The expansion also includes manufacturing classrooms, a precision agriculture classroom and lab and an auto service technology class.
“It’s been fascinating because what we’ve been able to do together, meaning (West Lafayette, Lafayette and Tippecanoe School Corporations), , is much more powerful, much more enriching opportunity for kids than we had all been able to offer separately,” said Scott Hanback, Tippecanoe School Corporation superintendent.
With any new school, there were some challenges initially with minor repairs and getting into the building right before school started. However, it was nothing that couldn’t be fixed. They are still in the process of improving certain aspects but are all working together to establish their community.