By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – The Tupelo Career-Technical Center on the Tupelo High School campus is trying to expand its enrollment.
The school, which currently enrolls 447 students, serves those from Tupelo, Saltillo and Mooreville high schools. Its student services coordinator, Donna Ivy, said one of her goals is to increase that number. She leads tours of the school and its 12 programs to THS freshmen and has given recruiting presentations to the students at Saltillo and Mooreville.
“In America today, we don’t have enough people trained for the workforce, and your career-tech schools are a way to fill that gap,” Ivy said. “…We want to produce students who can go out into the workforce.”
The school enrolls sophomores, juniors and seniors, and its classes offer first- and second-year courses, designed to give students the necessary training. Those programs include health science technology, automotive service technology, collision repair technology, construction, architecture and drafting, early childhood services, welding, engineering, culinary arts, career pathway experience, marketing and economics and digital media technology.
Tupelo High School Associate Principal Evet Topp is the program’s director. “A lot of these kids don’t know what they want to do for the future, and sometimes getting into career and technical classes allows them to choose and eliminate,” Ivy said.
Junior Ckelaun Nash is a second-year welding student and plans a career in the field, although he knew little about it two years ago.
“I just happened to pick the class and loved it,” he said.
Fellow junior James Payne plans to go to college to study gas and diesel. He is currently enrolled in the automotive service class.
“You get to do stuff a lot of people in regular classes don’t get to do,” he said. “It is fun.”
The programs are diverse. Career Pathways, for instance, teaches skills like personal finance and budgeting to students who already have jobs. It is only a one-year program.
Digital Media focuses on graphics, multimedia and animation, and health science covers various jobs in that field. Second-year students in the early childhood education class intern at North Mississippi Medical Center’s child care program and those in architecture complete a model house.
The classes are not just for students who are not college bound, Ivy said, noting nationally nearly two-thirds of all high school graduates of career and technical programs enter some form of post-secondary schooling.
“We are trying to open the doorway and pathway for students that they wouldn’t normally have,” she said. “…In the engineering class, there were students who didn’t realize they could go to senior college, but it has opened their confidence, and now they will go.”