By Larre Nelson
Why should I care about a new high school? After all, I’m on Social Security and I didn’t even attend AHS. Why should I even have an opinion? After all, I’ve lived here for only 50 years. (That’s hardly enough years to be vested.)
But, I know that a good high school is important. It’s important to our kids, important to our adults, and it’s important to the economic health of our community. And, it’s important to have both depth and breadth in the curriculum.
These days, education comes in all kinds of flavors. We need doctors for the hospital; we need journalists for the newspaper. We need engineers and accountants for our businesses. But we also need computer technicians, tool makers, plumbers, nurses, ministers, musicians and beauticians. That’s why I value a comprehensive high school, and it is why I find it gratifying to see that the CTE program is considered an essential element of the plan for a new AHS.
When I was in high school in the 1960s, wood shop and car repair were enough vocational training to get by. These days, the CTE curriculum includes culinary arts, welding, plumbing, electrician, landscaping, computer repair, graphic arts, and even pre-engineering programs. The programs are well organized, well-funded with state grants, well supported by parents and the community, and staffed with great teachers. But what they lack is adequate, appropriate and modern facilities for the programs.
The classes are squeezed into cramped and outdated rooms. In some cases, you have to pass through 1-2 classrooms to get to your seat in the third classroom.
We can’t put modern computers with state-of-the-art software in spaces set up for wood shop. We can’t teach students about landscaping if they stay in closed classrooms all day. Electrical students need a place to wire stuff. Plumbing students need a place to plumb stuff.
I suppose we could ignore this kind of thinking when we plan our new high school and bus our kids to some regional facility. But to me, that sounds very financially short-sighted. It also puts our local businesses and factories at a disadvantage when we need to recruit new employees.
We don’t get many chances in our lifetime to make an impact like this. Let’s not “stick our heads in the sands” of last century’s educational model. Let’s make sure we have the depth and breadth of education we need. Let’s vote “Yes” on the new AHS on April 3rd.