Trades Academy expanding CTE options at AL

By Sarah King

For the past two years, the Council Bluffs Community school district has discussed the construction and subsequent opening of a Trades Academy at both Abraham Lincoln High School and Thomas Jefferson High School. The renovation coincides with a national movement to enhance opportunities for students looking to pursue trades occupations after high school.

The proposed renovation will take place in two phases, with phase one at Abraham Lincoln beginning this summer. It is expected that by the start of the 2018-19 school year, renovations on the existing Construction Lab and Technology Center should be well under way. Phase two will take place during the summer of 2019, and will feature an expansion of the Construction Lab to make room for an Automotive Technology lab. This technology should be fully operational by the start of the 2019-20 school year.

“The Trades Academy will provide hands-on, foundational, exploratory experiences for students in automotive technology, carpentry and construction technology, welding technology, and more,” Abraham Lincoln High School Assistant Principal Cyle Forney said. “The Academy will provide exposure to multiple trades in the first two years of high school so students can identify an area of specialization for possible future coursework in conjunction with a diploma, certificate, and associates programs at Iowa Western Community College.”

The Trades Academy is designed to be utilized for preparation to enter the new Early College Academy program at Iowa Western Community College, which features the opportunity to attend both college and high school classes, and earn a diploma alongside an associates degree. Students can participate in the Trades Academy for the first two years of high school, and then enter the Early College Academy for the last two.

On top of providing education opportunities, the Trades Academy will prepare high school students to enter a growing career sector.

“The local, state and national economy is expected to grow significantly in these specific job sectors and is also experiencing a shortage of skills-qualified workforce,” Forney said. “The new Trades Academy will jump-start a student’s pathway into one of these specialized career areas by providing a broad exposure to all of them and developing the needed skills to move into Early College Academy opportunities at IWCC and ultimately into the workforce.”

The construction of the Trades Academy will undoubtedly expand the window of opportunities available at Abraham Lincoln High School for those looking to enter the workforce after high school.

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