High school academies help students get head start in careers

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - People find their passions at different ages. For some high school students, they are honing theirs in the classroom.

Dylan Burkett, a senior at Rutherford High School, said he has been taking manufacturing classes for three years. He plans on going to college with an interest in studying manufacturing and to get a professional certification.

"I am certified in the AutoCAD program, which is a architectural program that allows me to basically create the blueprints and floor plans for small-scale projects such as designs like tables, chairs, and other important infrastructure," Burkett said.

High school academies, like Rutherford's manufacturing program, allow students to learn trades and skills.

"This program really gives them a leg up where they can get into a good-paying manufacturing job," Eddy Mills, Rutherford's Advanced Manufacturing Program teacher, said.

According to Bay District Schools, in the 2015-2016 school year, 988 students earned industry certifications.

In the 2016-2017 school year, that number jumped to 1,257 students.

Over at Mosley High School, students try their hand in programs like culinary and engineering academies.

"We go through the Florida Restaurant's Manager's test here and it gives them a state certification. It's one of the ways we fund the program. The state reimburses us, so that it actually helps my kids get a job," Chef Robin Downs, the Culinary instructor at Mosley High, said.

Engineering students also have similar opportunities in their field.

"We're trying to increase students' employable skills, give them workplace skills, working with groups," Brad Breeden, Engineering teacher at Mosley, said.

If you have a student interested in trying an academy...

"Just try it. At least try it. You owe it to yourself to find out if this is just another dimension to your personality or another dimension to your life that can help you later on," Burkett said.

Mills said his manufacturing students have the chance to earn college credit at our local colleges.