During the Nebraska City Public Schools School Board meeting Monday evening, board members moved one step closer to the Career Academy curriculum by approving its first-ever handbook.

Nebraska City High School principal Brian Hoover doesn’t know how the handbook will be distributed yet, but it will be reformatted into a more user-friendly version for parents and students. Hoover said parent informational sessions will be scheduled soon to discuss any prerequisite classes that students will be required to take in order to participate in health, welding, construction and information technology Career Academy courses.

Hoover predicted that two informational sessions for high school students will be done sometime this month in the high school auditorium, prior to the Career Academy registration dates of March 16 and 17.

“When it comes to the eighth-graders we’ll have a completely separate one toward the end of March, beginning of April, so that parents can begin to make decisions on what classes their kids are going to take their freshmen and sophomore years,” he said. “Freshmen will need to consider what classes they’re going to take their sophomore year as introductory or intermediary classes.”  

All students interested in participating in the career academies during the junior and senior years must take required classes for the academy of their choice and must apply to participate. Currently, high school students have been able to participate in the health Career Academy at the district. However, welding, construction and information technology are the new academies being offered beginning this fall.

Health and welding career academies will take place at the high school and the construction and information technology academies will be located in the new building, the former La Mexicanita grocery store, at 1406 Central Ave. that the district purchased in October.

Hoover said, for example, if a student was interested in participating in the health Career Academy then they will be required to take early childhood development. If a student was interested in the welding academy then they would have to take intermediary welding 101 class. For the construction academy, a student needs to take a wood class. A couple of classes that students would have to take to participate in the information technology academy would be programming and information technology.   

“We want them to have a basic understanding of what they’re getting into so that they aren’t wasting their time because this will be half of their school day. So if this isn’t something that they’re truly interested in then they need to explore that their freshmen or sophomore year,” he said. “If this is something that they’re thinking that they want to explore then they’re going to need to take some prerequisite classes in order to get into those (academies).”

Hoover said the district will be more flexible with prerequisites for freshmen and sophomore students.

Hoover said the career academies will allow students to advance their education quicker after high school by perhaps bypassing first-year college requirements and going straight into second-year classes for associate’s degrees and certifications.

“I think it’s going to be an awesome opportunity for students to explore what they want to do after high school. If a student truly knows what he or she wants to accomplish when they’re 14, 15, 16 years old this will be a great way to get a jump start and acquire anywhere from 15 to 20 hours of college credit in their field,” he said.

Hoover added that the career academies will also give students an idea of whether or not they would like to pursue a health, construction, welding or information technology career now versus spending thousands of dollars in college for a field that they then decide that they don’t want to pursue.

“Another aspect that I really like is that high school is meant for kids to explore what they really like, and maybe a student believes that technology is something that they’re really interested in and they get a real-world viewpoint, as far as what all is encompassed in that chosen field,” he said.

(Look for the whole article in Friday’s Nebraska City News-Press.)