THS shows off its career academies
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
ALABASTER – Several Alabaster residents lined up in the back of Thompson High School crafts teacher Timothy Davis’ classroom on the evening of April 12 as Davis fired up a small butane torch.
Over the next few minutes, Davis took a small premade glass bulb, chose which color he wanted to make it, heated it until it was glowing orange and then inflated it to create a future Christmas ornament.
“It has to cool down for several hours,” Davis said as he carefully placed the final product into a small kiln. “If it cools down too quickly, it will break very easily.”
Blown glass ornaments were among the several works of art displayed in Davis’ classroom for the event, and were joined by elaborate hats made from brown paper bags, pewter jewelry and more.
Davis’ crafts class and all other school academies were open to the public during the THS academy night, which gave many locals their first look at classrooms purpose-built for programs such as Junior ROTC, engineering, band, broadcast journalism and health sciences
The health sciences academy, which was built with help from Shelby Baptist Medical Center, was a popular stop for visitors. The room includes several hospital beds, a lab area, a life-size ambulance replica and was temporarily housing a da Vinci surgical robot.
“Just for students to see this at a young age, it opens their eyes to all the possibilities out there,” said da Vinci clinical representative Tanner Hillis, noting about 400 THS health sciences students got to use the robot earlier in the day.
Shelby Baptist CEO Mike Rickman said the hospital is proud of the partnership it has with Alabaster City Schools.
“We appreciate the vision Alabaster City Schools has, because every student leaves with a plan,” Rickman said. “We’ve got over 1,000 positions at the hospital, and we’d love to fill those with THS graduates.”
In Brian Copes’ engineering academy, students were hard at work on their nearly completed all-electric sports car and were showing off the briefcase-contained solar power unit they developed for a refugee camp in Kenya.
“Teachers all over the world are interested in this,” Copes said of the solar unit, noting one had already been delivered to the refugee camp.
Elsewhere in the building, the Junior ROTC classroom was showcasing its student-led initiatives, the THS TV students were practicing live broadcasts and members of the band were greeting visitors with a performance in the front rotunda.
“A common misconception is that we are solely ROTC, when really we use ROTC to teach leadership skills,” said Junior ROTC instructor Lt. Col. Douglas Crabb. “We put cadets in leadership positions, and this is a great chance to show off what they’ve done.”