Kalama School District on Thursday got almost $333,000 in state grant funds to add more career and technical education courses at Kalama High School.
Career and technical courses are offered in fields like construction, welding, nursing, veterinary science and computer software, according to the state.
“We’re trying to prepare all of our students to be career- and college-ready,” said Cory Torppa, director of the CTE program in Kalama. “We want to be able to offer programs where students are learning the skills of today and tomorrow — whether they’re going into an entry-level job straight out of high school, or to a trade school, tech school, apprenticeship program, four-year college, (or the) military. That’s the goal.”
The district will use most of the money for a new computer lab at Kalama High School where students can access Microsoft training courses and get certifications, according to the district.
Another portion of the grant will go toward doubling the school’s robotics courses and adding an after-school robotics club, the district said. The high school will also see projects to improve welding and manufacturing courses, as well as the addition of a construction skills class.
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Career and technical education programs have been recently backed by the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
OSPI has encouraged schools to offer courses that teach students about apprenticeships and skills needed for nearly any sector, from construction and engineering to natural resources and health care, according to a 2020 OSPI report.
In Cowlitz County, high school students can also earn dual-credit for their career and technical education at Lower Columbia College in its state-sponsored Career Pathways program.
Kalama’s grant award increases the possible number of dual credits from eight to 12, according to the district.
“This alignment ensures our students will have opportunities that are not only engaging, but also rooted in the development of skills that the local industry is looking for,” said Eric Nerison, Kalama School District superintendent.