NEW PALESTINE – From building classes to new culinary education, eight new classes have been approved at New Palestine High School for next year. All classes are designed to prepare students for the job market immediately after graduation.
The courses include strategic marketing; advanced manufacturing principles; introduction to robotics; principles of construction trades; construction trades 2; construction / carpentry trades; principles of cuisine and hospitality; and food.
District officials are trying to be proactive and prepare students for the job market after state leaders tasked districts with giving students multiple routes to graduation, knowing that workers are needed immediately and that not all high school students will continue their studies.
The new classes are part of the state’s vocational and technical education curriculum, meaning the state will provide funding per student based on the number of times the class is offered. The amount of money provided will depend on the assessment level of the classes. As an example, Construction Trades Class 2 is a reimbursement of $ 600. If the NPHS offers the course five times and 20 children take it each time, that makes $ 60,000.
“We get almost the full value of the teacher if enough kids take the course,” said communications director Wes Anderson.
State officials say the percentage of college students in Indiana has fallen over the past five years, from 65% in 2015 to 59% in 2019.
“We’ve talked a lot with our graduation path program on the stage of trying to increase the choice of classes for our students,” Anderson said.
The Pathways program is ideal for students because it allows students to find different ways to earn credit toward graduation and skills that they can put to use in the immediate future.
“Not all kids are great candidates on standardized tests or on that academic honor track, and that’s okay,” Anderson said.
The district has seen a steady increase in student interest in vocational and technical training courses.
“Job opportunities in manufacturing and construction in Indiana are very competitive, offering high wages and good benefits,” said Dave Post, professor of engineering at the NPHS.
He is grateful to the administration and the school board for giving students the opportunity to prepare for work right out of high school.
“Not only will this benefit students, but also businesses that need employees and our state’s economy,” Post said.
The new classes were created to give students interested in construction trades and other disciplines a chance to learn valuable skills that the state has emphasized.
“The choices are great and we would like to add even more electives,” Anderson said.
This is one of the reasons why the district continued its renovation project at the ENSP. The high school needed more classrooms to be able to offer different types of educational opportunities.
“It’s a real goal for us to have more choices for kids who tick those boxes for graduation pathways,” Anderson said.
Post teaches high school robotics and construction and is able to help his students connect with business professionals who can then help future graduates find jobs right out of high school.
“Interest in what Dave Post is doing is growing every day,” Anderson said. “There is a full house every day.
Most of the new classes will be available to all students, although some will only be available to juniors and seniors who have expressed an interest in learning specific skills.
As an example, the new Strategic Marketing course will teach marketing and public relations concepts, with the classroom becoming a hub for marketing projects. Students will be able to do things like promote athletics, the performing arts, and other events throughout the district.
“These are great opportunities for the children in our district to gain hands-on, real-world experience in our school every day,” said Anderson.
Post noted that one of his most rewarding experiences as an educator is helping a young person discover and pursue career goals.
“As my late father-in-law used to say when good things happened, ‘the sky is the limit, and it’s a clear day.'”
Principal Jim Voelz and Director of Education Miles Hercamp were instrumental in approving the new classes, Anderson said.