New facilities focus on career readiness at James Island Charter High School
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A shiny new basketball gym, an indoor-outdoor building construction classroom, a commercial kitchen and an entire wing reserved for health education are just some of the features of the two new buildings at James Island Charter High School. The $25 million development is the last major project in the Charleston County School District’s Phase Four Capital Programs plan approved and paid for by a referendum in 2016.
The new buildings consist of a Career Technology Education center and a new competitive gym. Inside the CTE building, students will find classes aimed at allowing them to achieve a Completers Status by developing hands-on skills. The Completers Status opens the door for students to get a leg up in college or to simply enter the workforce straight out of high school. Principal Timothy Thorn says it’s all about giving students options and opportunities.
“The thing behind Career Technology Education is that you can get a completers status and go into the workforce and earn a living wage,” Thorn said. “You don’t need to go to college to make a lot of money or to do well early on. You can always increase your credentials over time as well. You can go into the workforce, begin to provide for yourself, have some success and then maybe find the path you want to go down. Either way, it provides a vehicle for kids to earn skills and credentials to help them be successful in life.”
Students can study culinary arts in a commercial kitchen or building construction in an indoor-outdoor facility filled with the same machines found on an actual worksite. Of course, there are state-of-the-art computer labs for classes aimed at teaching students coding, programming and engineering as well.
Perhaps most impressive are the rooms dedicated to health sciences. Before entering classrooms, students walk past a nurse station designed to simulate the triage area of a hospital. Across the hall, half a dozen medical beds line a wall in a room that mirrors what you’d expect to see at any medical school. It’s the same equipment used by medical students, down to the patient dummies. Here students learn the basics of care and medical administration.
“We’re ecstatic. The facilities are gorgeous and state of the art,” Thorn said. “It’s very exciting and I can’t wait to get the kids in there.”
Next door, the gym has more than enough capacity to hold the entire student body and has everything you’d expect to see in a high school gym. The gym is branded head to toe in school colors and even the new weight room houses dumbbells with the image of the school’s mascot – a trojan warrior – painted on the sides. While the building is designed for athletics, it also doubles as a classroom.
“Every space has its purpose and supports our academic mission and hopefully helps kids find their paths going forward,” Thorn said.
Students studying sports medicine, for example, have classrooms adjacent to the gym, while even the student store located next to the trophy case has an educational opportunity for business students.
“The school store for example. It’s about learning how to do inventory, run a store, the debits and the credits and taking care of the cashier and patrons and serving the public, so learning all those aspects of life skills and employment skills are critical,” Thorn said.
Students will be able to start using building buildings when they return to school in August.
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