Alabaster student academies preparing kids for life after school

The Alabaster City School System will launch its academy system starting with the 2014-2015 school year. (File)

The Alabaster City School System will launch its academy system starting with the 2014-2015 school year. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

Alabaster students entering ninth grade in the fall of 2014 will have a more focused set of electives to prepare them for life after graduation after the Alabaster School System enacts its student academy program.

Through the academy programs, the city’s eighth-grade students will take interest and aptitude surveys, which will help them develop their career goals.

The students will then use the data from their surveys and their future career aspirations to choose from several academies to complete during their high school tenures.

Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, the city will offer several academies, such as an education academy, a finance and business academy and a fine arts academy.

Each academy will outline a set of elective classes the students will take based on their interests and future goals.

“Our goal is for all electives to be purposeful and to help our kids get ready for the career and college world,” Alabaster City Schools Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction Cena Davis said during a March 4 interview. “Our goal is to make sure we meet the needs of every child if they are going to college or they aren’t going to college.”

While completing courses outlined in the academies, students also will have opportunities to intern with local companies during their senior year of high school to gain hands-on experience in their field of interest.

Davis said many local businesses – particularly in the health care field – have already expressed interest in partnering with the school system to offer internships, Davis said.

The academies also will allow students to earn credentials, such as Microsoft IT specialist and certified nursing assistant, which will be “recognized by the business world,” Davis said.

Elective classes offered through the academy programs will be available to 10th through 12th graders at Thompson High School beginning next year, but next year’s freshmen will be the first class to graduate under the academy programs.

Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers said the city’s new high school will be constructed with the academy system in mind.

“It will be a comprehensive high school. It will incorporate career readiness in the building,” Vickers said. “You want every student to find their place. That, for us, is our goal.”

The following are a list of academies students will be able to choose from starting with next year’s THS freshmen:

-Education academy

-Audio/video communications academy

-Culinary, food, wellness and dietetics academy

-Finance and business academy

-Microsoft academy

-Hospitality and tourism academy

-Health science academy

-Fine arts academy

-Junior ROTC academy

-World language academy