MONTICELLO — Indian Trails Career Cooperative officials say rising student enrollment from all of White County schools is boosting the types of career and technical programs it offers.
According to numbers provided by Indian Trails, there are currently 2,256 course enrollments for the 2020-21 school year between all four of White County’s school corporations – Twin Lakes, North White, Frontier and Tri-County, all of which are members of the cooperative.
According to Jess Horlacher, assistant director of career and technical education at ITCC, between the four high schools, courses are offered in agriculture, architecture and construction, arts, audio/video technology and communications, business and marketing, education and training, health sciences, hospitality and human services, information technology, manufacturing, STEM and transportation.
“Many of these courses can offer dual credit or an industry certification,” she said.
At the end of the 2018-19 school year, Horlacher said 84% of White County high school graduates earned a college or career credential, while the state average was 68%.
“This data speaks volumes to the opportunities given to students at the four White County high schools,” she said.
The results can also be quantified in tangible evidence. For example, Tri-County students enrolled in horticulture and advanced life science plants are growing lettuce and tomatoes for the school lunch program.
“The Tri-County Agriculture Department prides itself on its farm-to-school initiatives, said Travis Scherer, agriculture teacher at TC. “This (past) summer, students raised hydroponic lettuce that was packaged and donated to the White County Food Pantry.”
At Frontier, family and consumer sciences teacher Melissa Culver-Pekny says her culinary arts students use what they learn by catering meals for the Frontier Rotary Club and other special events.
“The program has an 85% passing rate for ServSafe certification and offers two dual-credit classes through the Ivy Tech Culinary Institute,” she said.
Jeff Wild, business teacher at North White, said he has added an Advanced Accounting class to go with Principles of Accounting and Introduction to Business.
“We look to add Principles of Business Management soon to go along with the new pathways for our students,” he said.
At Twin Lakes, business teacher Laura Rogers’ students have had a busy school year in spite of the COVID-19 health emergency.
“Seventeen BPA members made it to the state competition; marketing students are still producing Tribe Radio every Friday at 8:30 a.m. from the WMRS radio studio; graphic design students helped create the winter sports program; and students continue to earn certifications in Microsoft Office, Security Pro, and PC Pro,” she said. “Advanced Business students promoted the business classes to the Prep for College/Career classes.”
Mollie Mosier, family and consumer sciences teacher at Tri-County, said her students have benefitted from what she called “a generous community.”
“Roots Eatery and Pub in Wolcott donated six Ninja Blender Duos for my classroom kitchens. CAC Farms, Chad and Tara Dahlenburg, donated 50 pounds of ground beef to support cooking labs in Culinary Arts classes,” she said. “Farney’s Service Center donated $1,000 to our FACS program. Katina Farney helped me select barbecue equipment to purchase and has agreed to come teach us her best tips and tricks.”
Indian Trails’ CTE courses continue to grow. For the current school year, it has added welding, human social services, introduction to construction and administrative office management to its collection of offerings at individual schools.
The following is a glimpse of program growth between 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years:
- Frontier increased its enrollment by 10% or more in Animal Sciences, Preparation for College and Career, Sports and Entertainment Marketing, Culinary Arts and Hospitality, and Engineering Design and Development.
- North White increased its enrollment by 30% or more in Anatomy and Physiology, Health Science Education I, Intro Ag, Food and Natural Resources, Medical Terminology, Preparation for College/Career, and Nutrition and Wellness. In the 2019-2020 school year, North White also added Construction Trades, whereas in previous years they sent student to take this course at Twin Lakes.
- Tri-County increased its enrollment by 20% or more in Agribusiness Management, Computer Science I, Culinary Arts, Intro Engineering Design, and Warehouse Operations.
- Twin Lakes increased its enrollment by 20% or more in Auto Service Technology, Culinary Arts, Graphic Design, Principles of Business Management, Welding Technology II, and Networking.
In the 2020-2021 school year, 126 CTE courses were offered between the four schools which has helped to create 25 different career pathways for students to pursue. The four high schools collaborate with local businesses and agencies to provide work-based learning, job shadowing and internship opportunities to students.
“These collaborations are valuable as they allow students to connect what they are learning, in all their courses, to the real world of work,” Horlacher said. “Local businesses and industries then have the opportunity to recruit students for full-time employment after graduation.”
Indian Trails Career Cooperative, 300 S. Third St., Monticello, serves around 3,500 students in 10 high schools in White, Jasper, Pulaski, Carroll and Newton counties. Other member school corporations include Carroll Consolidated, Delphi Community, North Newton, South Newton, Rensselaer Central and West Central.