OZARK, Ala. (WTVY) – Dale County Schools are preparing students for a future in the Wiregrass workforce.
Dale County’s first career tech program, the Bridge Academy, aims to provide a viable work-force for the Wiregrass, exposing students to many career options.
“I think that it’s always important to pour into our youth and to help the leadership of our future because these are our future leaders in our community,” criminology teacher at Bridge Academy Jeremy Varner said.
The new programs are already having an impact on the students.
“I have, like, three different options right now of what career I want to go to,” William Newton, a junior at Dale County High School told News 4. “It’s definitely a positive because I can research each opportunity and just, compare them and see what I want to do.”
The program serves over 80 students from Ariton, Dale County, and G.W. Long High Schools.
They are learning specialized skills like welding, mechatronics, and criminal justice.
“We do actual fingerprinting,” Varney explained. “We teach them how to fingerprint. We set up mock scenes of crime scenes.
It’s the hands on experiences that are sparking passion for students like Laney Deloney.
“I’d really, like, want to go to a crime scene and actually figure out who did it,” she said.
The pandemic and supply chain issues delayed the opening of Bridge Academy, but now, the doors are open.
Students and teachers are excited about what’s in store.
“We were excited to have to welcome out first students. We anticipate increasing the number of students that we can bring in next year as we build the program,” Lisa Welch, Career Tech Director with the Dale County Board of Education said.
More students mean more people joining the workforce.
“They’re going to be our next sheriff,” Varney said. “They’re going to be our next judges, next lawyers. We want to help them grow quickly and give them all the tools they need to be successful later on, so they will help our community.”
A ceremonial grand opening for the Bridge Academy will take place later next month.
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