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CTAE students win state awards

COVINGTON -- Although the Newton County School System will welcome its first college and career academy in 2012, its high schools already have a good foundation on which to expand at the specialty school.

This school year, more than 50 students in Newton County's three high schools received state awards while participating in various Career Technical Student Organizations, said Linda Hayden, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at NCSS.

Each NCSS high school has between five and eight CTSOs offered, said James Woodard, director of Career, Technical and Agricultural Education at NCSS.

Standard organizations at each include Future Farmers of America and Future Business Leaders of America, and some of the schools have groups like Family, Career and Community Leaders of America; Georgia Career Technical Instruction; and DECA, an association of marketing students. Alcovy High also offers Skills USA, a partnership of schools and industries working together to ensure America has a skilled work force, and Health Occupations Students of America associations.

"Our high schools are very active in this area in providing students with leadership opportunities in these organizations," Hayden said.

Over the past school year, individuals and groups of students have conducted research, worked during and outside of school hours and completed projects to compete in local, state and even national competitions.

This year, students achieved such state accomplishments as receiving state FFA degrees and placing at the state level in areas like floriculture, meat evaluation, horse judging, first aid and rescue breathing, woodworking, drafting and design, creative thinking, various types of business studies and manufacturing, among others.

"Congratulations to these kids," Woodard said. "I know these types of activities really enhance student leadership, community service and technical training."

He said participating in such activities will allow these students to become more competitive during and after high school and gives them more experience to place on their resumes.

"I hope to see more activity this (upcoming) school year," Woodard said, adding that teachers already are planning ways to encourage and get students more involved in the programs. "I think there is a lot more we can do."

Some other Career, Technical and Agricultural Education programs are planned for expansion, moving toward the opening of the Newton College & Career Academy.

This summer, workers are renovating the Eastside High School engineering program to help qualify it for more state funding and support. They are rearranging and reorganizing the current classrooms to set them up more like industry-certified labs and creating a work room in which students can build models, robots and other projects.

"A group of industry and educational leaders come in to verify that teachers, the facility and equipment meet their standards for instruction," Woodard said about the industry certification process. "It's about bringing industry into the classroom."

Woodard hopes Eastside High will be able to qualify for industry certification and a $67,500 grant from the Georgia Department of Education by the 2011-12 school year.

This will align the engineering program to the one at Alcovy High, which was industry certified this school year. Newton High does not have an engineering program.

Woodard said he hopes to have these types of introductory programs at the base high schools and offer more advanced courses at the NCCA when it opens.