Sept. 10--Austin High School senior Christina Davis can't explain her lifelong interest in aerospace.
But like the six other Decatur City Schools students in the aircraft maintenance class at Calhoun Community College, she has a plan.
"Right now, I want to join the Navy when I graduate. And I know what I am learning in here will help me," she said.
Davis is one of 114 students getting hands-on experience because of a partnership between Calhoun and the school system to expand career technical opportunities for students.
A lot of the dual-enrolled students said the arrangement has allowed them to forgo electives they didn't want to take in exchange for classes they will use after high school.
Jacob Farris, a Decatur senior who wants to become an engineer, said he likely would be in "some art class or study hall" to kill time if he was not enrolled in the aircraft maintenance class.
"You get a little more excited about coming to school, and you are not bored," he said.
DCS Curriculum Supervisor Dee Dee Jones said a lack of space at both Decatur and Austin high schools limited the number of vocational classes offered on each campus.
"We are able to offer so many other opportunities because of our partnership with Calhoun," she said.
George Martin, who teaches the aircraft maintenance class, said the Federal Aviation Administration requires students in the class to have a certain level of math and physical science.
"Once they complete this course, they will be able to test for aircraft mechanics certification," he said.
Martin said the certification will allow the students to work on any part of an airplane other than the engine.
Because the Army has moved its flight-test program to Redstone Arsenal, he said, there is growing demand for civilian certified mechanics in the area.
"If these kids decide not to attend college, they will not have a problem finding a job," Martin said.
In the cosmetology class, students spent Thursday morning learning how to separate and dry hair.
"There's is so much more to this than I thought," Austin High junior Chloe Cheeks said.
Classmate Aaliyah Smith said she was excited when cosmetology became available as an elective.
"It was the first class I selected," she said. "My mother and aunt told me to choose a profession I would do for free, and I am passionate about this."
Cosmetology teacher Pooja Moondra said the hours students spend in the class apply toward the requirement for state certification.
"The most important thing is they are getting direction in life," she said. "By being here, they will find out if this is really what they want to do for a living."
Sophomore Jayda Bolden said she may select another profession but plans to take the state board and "work in a saloon to help pay for college."
Jones said Calhoun courses will apply toward a college degree at all state colleges and universities.
The Office of Workforce Development is using a grant to pay student tuition, normally about $400 per semester.
Dual-enrollment students must maintain a B average in core classes, such as English and history, and must keep at least a C average in the class at Calhoun.
Deangelo McDaniel can be reached at 256-340-2469 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Decatur City Schools and Calhoun Community College have agreements to allow students to dual enroll in cosmetology; health science; emergency medical technician; dental assistant; aerospace technology; child development; industrial maintenance technology; certified nursing assistant/phlebotomy; aviation maintenance; aerospace welding; fire college certification; and radio, television and broadcasting.
The non-vocational dual-enrollment classes are English, math, history, biology and chemistry.
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