Educators and community leaders cut a ceremonial ribbon today and followed student guides on a tour of the Beaufort County School District’s first facility dedicated exclusively to career and technology education.
Beginning in January, the new Advanced Technical Center at Battery Creek High School will offer students cutting-edge, technology-rich classrooms specializing in agri-science, aviation and aerospace, culinary arts, mechatronics (mechanical and electronic engineering) and welding.
“People across the country talk about an ‘employment gap,’ but the real challenge we face is a ‘skills gap,’ ” said Superintendent Jeff Moss. “Too many job applicants for high-paying occupations simply don’t have the skills that employers are looking for. This facility is part of the solution to that challenge.”
Moss said that the Advanced Technical Center – along with a similar facility at the under-construction May River High School – are key parts of a broader district-wide expansion of career and technology education (CATE) instructional choices. Students in CATE courses will have the option of pursuing additional studies in college or obtaining industry certifications that will allow them to get good jobs as soon as they leave high school.
“It’s all about options – providing more career options for students,” said district CATE Coordinator Karen Gilbert. “The courses offered here will give students opportunities to get a head-start on their careers while they’re still in high school, and also increase their chances for college admission or for immediate success in the job market.”
Following the ribbon-cutting ceremonies, CATE students at Battery Creek High demonstrated the Advanced Technical Center’s high-tech classroom capabilities for the guests. Those features include a computer flight simulator, industrial welding stations and a full commercial kitchen where students led by teacher-chef Gregory Lightner prepared lunches and desserts for visitors.
“This is an exciting and very special day,” said Battery Creek High Principal Ed Burnes. “This is an amazing addition to our campus, and every student who sees it comes away impressed.”
The district estimates that more than 1,000 additional students will enroll in CATE courses as their availability expands across the county.