ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Upon graduation, two out of three Rapides Parish students don't go to college. In an effort to change that statistic, district administration is working to provide more workforce ready opportunities to students.
Their Career and Technical Education Program is excelling at high schools like Buckeye and Tioga. The program has given Tioga senior Casey Matney all of the tools he needs to graduate and get a high paying job in the automotive field.
"I have four of my ASE certifications," Matney said. "My brakes, electrical, electronic systems, engine repair, heating and AC."
Over the last four years, Matney has racked up 12 credentials on the Jump Start automotive pathway.
"Because of most of my ASE certifications, I'm ready for the world like most of the people that have been out there 15-20 years," Matney said.
Jump Start is a part of the state's CTE program. Many of the Jump Start pathways only require one to three CTE credentials. Matney said the average student earns three to five upon graduating.
"He doesn't give himself very much credit," said first responder teacher Jodie Hallman. But, he is just one of these students that is driven to just continue to achieve."
Matney didn't earn all of his credentials at the shop. Students can take a variety of courses like Hallman's first responders class.
"There's not anything I'm not teaching them, from splinting to tourniquets, to cardiac arrest to delivering babies," Hallman said.
But, no matter what class it is, Hallman said the CTE program puts students ahead of the curve.
"You have a Jump Start over somebody else," Hallman said. "Because you actually have a certification that you can use in your place of work that can help you be a better hire than somebody that doesn't have that certification."
Director of Secondary Education Dana Nolan said Matney is a lead example of CTE's benefits.
"This is the vision for career and tech ed in Rapides Parish," Dr. Nolan said. "For students to leave with more than what they need."
Recently, the school board approved the addition of a larger CTE center at Peabody Magnet High School.
"So, we can centralize them at Peabody and expand our offerings to our outlying schools, as well as our schools within the city," Dr. Nolan said.
Matney's automotive instructor Brian Branch said he took full advantage of the program.
"I'm happy for him, you know, it's a starting point," Branch said. "A starting point in his career."
And Matney just can't wait to get started.
"I'm pretty set for when I get out of here," Matney said.
For more information on the addition of a CTE center at Peabody Magnet High School visit the attached link.