East Limestone High's one available computer class didn't satisfy student Matthew Pittenger's desire for more.
He needed a place to learn programming, networking and as much computer-related information as possible. He found that place at the Limestone County Career-Tech Center.
Attending a career-tech school is increasingly more popular than its predecessor — the traditional trade school — as technology becomes more sophisticated.
"I think the pendulum has swung back in favor of career-tech," Morgan County Career-Tech Director Chris Blevins said.
Blevins said parents' and students' attitudes toward career-tech are changing as they realize it's a path toward a successful, well-paying career.
Mickey Glass, Limestone Career-Tech Center director, said more students with college aspirations are taking career-tech.
"They don't think it's just an option if you don't plan to attend college," Glass said.
Computers, pre-engineering and health sciences are among the popular new courses added in recent years to career-tech. Heath sciences is a program that prepares for health careers such as nursing, paramedic and dental assistant. The culinary arts and cosmetology also are popular.
Pittenger said he was surprised to find the computer training he wanted in Limestone's Information Technology program.
He is now learning about Microsoft's operating system Windows as part of a programming class. He also is taking networking, and next year plans to learn about computer security, or "stopping hackers," he said.
"I thought the center was mainly for the traditional crafts like auto mechanics and welding," Pittenger said.
Glass said even the traditional trades such as auto repair, drafting, welding and heating and air conditioning repair depend on sophisticated technology.
"Career-tech has become much more high tech," Glass said, adding drafting used to be done with pencil, paper and a T-square. Now drafting is done only on computer-aided-design software, he said.
Blevins and Glass said they think career-tech will continue to grow in popularity because of a change to the state's graduation requirements that make it easier to take career-tech classes.
Glass said the state no longer requires a fine arts or a computer applications class, creating time in the class schedule for career-tech.
Students still must take four years of the four core classes (English, math, science and social studies) plus a health and a physical education class.
Blevins attributes the changing attitudes on the state level and among parents to the state's industrial leaders.
"Industry has been speaking out more about the need for better-educated kids to fill their jobs," Blevins said.
Blevins said math and science will continue to grow in importance as career-tech's popularity grows. He said that doesn't necessarily mean the higher math like trigonometry or calculus.
"Industry is pushing for more technology knowledge and useful work skills," he said.
Bayne Hughes can be reached at 256-340-2432 or email@example.com.
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