WHITTIER From sports medicine to public service careers like firefighting and law enforcement, students in the Whittier Union High School District will have more opportunities to combine their high school education and career goals beginning next fall.
Officials at the 13,000-student district say they will add five career academies at four schools in the 2008-09 school year, on top of the 10 academies currently in the district s five regular high schools.
They will include a new public service academy at Pioneer High that focuses on fire/ police/paramedic careers; two academies at La Serna High on sports careers and film; a sports medicine academy at Whittier High; and a mechanical/architectural drafting academy at Santa Fe High.
The academies combine high-school core classes such as English, math, social studies and science with career training from 10th grade to graduation.
By the time they graduate, many students are either certified in their chosen field and can be competitive in the workplace, or are set up to continue their education in college.
This isn t something that is brand-new for us, said Superintendent Sandra Thorstenson.
At the 10 academies we already have, the students are so enthusiastic about learning and school, Thorstenson said. They understand there is an interconnectedness to all of the subjects they re studying.
Currently, California High has five academies, the most among Whittier Union schools. They cover health, business, auto technology, architecture/engineering and the culinary/hotel management industries.
The latter academy at Cal High, dubbed the Hospitality House, has seen its graduates go on to attend the prestigious Culinary Institute and Johnson and Wales University, said Assistant Superintendent Ron Carruth.
Other academies in the district cover the business, computer, entrepreneurship, graphic arts and teaching fields.
It s a fabulous opportunity because at such a young age as young as sophomores the students get a clear sense of whether this is the career path for them, Thorstenson said.
How nice that they re able to make that decision as a sophomore in high school, rather than as a sophomore in college.
Whittier High Principal Loring Davies said the new sports medicine academy coming to his campus next year is a very interesting area because so many people are fascinated by sports, athletics and fitness.
For varying reasons, not everyone can participate at the level they want because they re gifted athletes, Davies said.
But with this academy, students will have an opportunity to participate in those events and activities, even if they don t have great athletic skills.
The district s plans for new academies doesn t stop next year; officials plan to add one more academy to each campus in the 2009-10 school year.
This is something we ve believed in for a long, long time, Thorstenson said. It helps to ensure students are obtaining the skills they need not just to do well on state tests, but in their futures as well.