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Name change proposed for career studies center

September 22, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

Laura DiCarlo is a student at Washington County Career Studies Center but she often has a tough time explaining what that means.

"People think it's an adult education center ... or worse," she told the Washington County Board of Education Tuesday.

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To improve the school's image and better convey what the school is about, students, faculty and local business people have proposed a new name - Washington County Technical High School.

The school board is expected to vote Oct. 6 on the change, which would cost $4,000 for new letterhead and a new sign in front of the West Oak Ridge Drive campus.

"It is a high school. Why not call it a high school?" DiCarlo said.

The Career Studies Center became a full-time high school for juniors and seniors four years ago.

Before that, students took academic classes at their home school and commuted to Career Studies, said Principal Arnold Hammann.

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The school has been trying to let people know about those changes in order to increase enrollment. There are 340 students now, but the school has a capacity of 400, he said.

But the school's name has created some confusion and misunderstanding, he said.

"When you hear it, you don't automatically have an image of what this is. You immediately have questions. If you don't give people a clear picture they'll come up with their own," Hammann said.

The school's Craft Advisory Committee, made up of trade representatives and parents, has been talking about a name change for three or four years.

The school's goal is to help students become young professionals, Hammann said.

Students specialize in one of a dozen programs: advanced computer applications, visual communications (computer graphics), intergenerational care (preschool and childcare), cosmetology, health occupations, culinary arts, pre-engineering CAD/CAM (architectural drafting and computer-driven equipment), collision repair (auto-body), automotive technology (auto mechanics), criminal justice, carpentry, electrical construction and welding.

The computer programs have been created and revamped in the last four years, he said.

The number of students who go on to two- and four-year colleges is increasing even though the percentages aren't as high as at the geographically based high schools, he said.

"In a lot of ways I feel they're better prepared than some that go on to a four-year college. They have a skill (and) they can work for more than minimum wage if they are working their way through college," he said.

Board members said Tuesday they liked the sound of "Washington County Technical High School."

"It should have happened sooner," said school board President Robert L. Kline, a former teacher at the school.

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