Tech kids have their spotlight

  • Eric Berto<br>Enterprise writer
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 11:26am

The tapping of the keys on a keyboard blends with groans of frustration.

Anyone who owns a computer can empathize with these students at Jackson High School.

They are learning how to reformat a computer as part of a computer science class, one of the many the school offers.

Feb. 12-18 is National Career and Technical Education week, which is meant to draw attention to the myriad of programs available to students.

Maggie Thorleifson, who teaches the computer science class, is the school’s head of Technical and Career Education. She said that approximately 1,100 students at the school are enrolled in one of the classes.

The classes range from business marketing to digital photography to computer programming. Thorleifson said the district decided approximately nine years ago to not offer classes such as metal shop or wood shop because of the liability and the costs involved.

“We’re finding that people in traditionally non-technical positions are being required to have a higher level of mastery of technology,” Thorleifson said.

For the students in the classes, they are a valuable tool to get to their future goals. Cameron Bitz said he has taken nearly every computer class the school offers.

“Everything is 100 percent hands on,” he said. “Our average day is just getting in there.”

Bitz said that the experience of doing versus hearing helps him learn. He said he was able to build a home computer for his family with the knowledge he gained in the classes.

Students can also earn professional certificates through many of the classes, Thorleifson said. Equal to what can be earned through college classes, some students are turning their high school curriculum into a job.

Thorleifson said that one student has been interning with Providence Medical Center and will be hired as soon as he graduates.

Students in the athletic training program receive CPR certification as well.

Thorleifson said that the technical education classes are important for the students’ futures.

“Sometimes they go to college and don’t realize technology is going to be a part of their undergraduate studies,” she said.

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