WESTERLY — The School Committee Wednesday received an overview of career and technical education programs offered at Westerly High School as well as others that are envisioned for as early as the next school year.
The programs offer students hands-on experience in fields of interest. Students who complete the programs successfully obtain licenses, certification, or college credits in addition to their high school diplomas. In all cases the offerings are based on one of the district's primary goals, officials said.
"We're all about ensuring college and career readiness for kids and ensuring they are prepared for whatever comes next," after graduation, said Superintendent of Schools Mark Garceau.
The high school currently offers five career and technical education programs: pathways in technology, cosmetology, culinary arts, construction, and medical. In addition to coursework focused on the particular themes, students take other courses from the regular curriculum. The programs are required to meet state standards for career and technical education. Students can also elect to take courses offered in the programs without committing to an entire program.
Students in the programs are required to maintain established achievement levels in their other coursework, said Shelby Worsham, the cosmetology program instructor.
Kevin Cronin, Westerly High School assistant principal and director of the school's career and technical education programs, said the school hopes to make nine additional offerings available when students arrive for the new school year in the fall. "All of these are within our existing program of studies. We just polish them to make sure we meet the standards," he said.
Cronin and Worsham presented the material to the School Committee.
The nine proposed additions are: criminal justice, education, business accounting, arts design, information technology, multimedia communications, craft and fine art, art education, and music education.
Officials said they hoped that by offering the programs, the number of students who leave the district would be reduced. Cronin and Garceau both said that the majority of Westerly students who currently attend other schools were looking for criminal justice programs.
School Committee member Marianne Nardone said the programs give students an opportunity to discuss and think about "jobs and careers more so than they did years ago."
Garceau said the district is working on deepening its collaboration with the Westerly Education Center, a job development and college learning hub on Friendship Street. Later this month, nine Westerly High School students will begin sheet metal training at the center.
Students who successfully complete the training will receive a certificate and be given priority for potential jobs at Electric Boat, Cronin said.