RC3 will open in August with five anchor programs

HOOVER – Hoover City Schools officials are preparing for the opening of the school system’s new Riverchase Career Connection Center in August.

The center, located at the renovated site of the former Riverchase Middle School, will begin operations with five anchor programs: Building Science Academy (construction, electrical, HVAC and welding), Cyber Innovation Academy (programming, network administration, cybersecurity), Culinary Arts and Hospitality Academy (cooking, serving, event management), Fire and Emergency Services Academy (firefighting, emergency medical assistance), and Health Science Academy (nursing, pharmacy and home health care).

Other programs that could be added in the future include automotive technology, biotechnology, heavy equipment, landscaping and mechatronics.

“We assume all of our children will go to college,” HCS Superintendent Kathy Murphy said about a mindset that is changing because of the value of learning skilled trades. “Many of them do go to college and are very successful and complete degrees. We need to make sure all of our students are ready for whatever their life ambitions are.”

HCS students in grades 10, 11 and 12 are eligible to apply and interview for acceptance to RC3.

Other aspects of the center will also model a work environment, including flexible scheduling adjusted by staff on a weekly basis, clocking in and out of workspaces, utilization of real-world mentors and an emphasis on soft skills.

“We want this place to be more like a place of work than a school,” said Ron Dodson, the center’s director. “Obviously, you’re there to learn—you’re there to learn a trade, you’re there to learn your English and your math—but you’re going to do it in a work setting that’s similar to what it’s like to work in the industry.”

There will be two “shifts” per day at RC3, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and students will pick the shift that best complements home campus needs.

“It’s so important to meet kids right where they are and get right into the things they want to do, and we are going to be offering so many programs, so many things for those that are not only wanting to be college ready but just ready to start a career,” HCS Board of Education member Amy Tosney said. “It’s going to be state-of-the-art, nothing like anyone has ever seen. We are on the forefront, and we are super thrilled.”

Shuttle bus service will transport students between their home schools and RC3 or students can drive.

The students will maintain a connection with their home campus for extracurricular activities.

“I’ve worked in this school system for 30 years, and I think this is one of the best things Hoover schools has ever done,” Dodson said.