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Technical high school enrollment has a growth spurt

August 01, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

A growth in programs over the past few years has resulted in a record high enrollment at Washington County Technical High School for the 2003-04 school year, the school's principal said Wednesday.

Technical High School Principal Jeff Stouffer said he expects 420 students to begin classes at the two-year school in August, 42 students more than were enrolled there last year.

He said of the school's 15 career programs, computer equipment repair and networking, digital communications, culinary arts, criminal justice and health occupations are near capacity.

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The school will continue to stay near the school system's targeted 20-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio, said Boyd Michael III, Washington County Public Schools executive director of secondary education.

He said other high schools in the school system will have higher than normal enrollments for this school year, but none are at the record level that the Technical High School is projected to have.

Stouffer said the growth in enrollment at other high schools also has helped place the Technical High School at its record high.

When Arnold Hammann started as principal at the Technical High School in 1996, the school partnered with only 21 businesses. Those businesses told school officials what training and skills were desired at their workplaces.

Hammann, who now is the school system's supervisor of enrichment and career technology programs, said the number of business partners has since grown to 160.

During that growth period, unpopular or out-of-date career programs were cut and replaced with six more technology-driven programs such as computer repair and networking, he said. Also, older programs were revamped. Hammann said the culinary arts program, which previously emphasized food service, was restructured to have a chef, making it a true culinary class.

Stouffer said not only does the school offer more in-demand programs, but it also has increased the number of advanced placement courses, from one last year to four this year.

Hammann said more and more of the school's program credits transfer to colleges, allowing students to practically skip a semester worth of college tuition.

"These programs are all very real. Students are in touch with the careers that are out there," Hammann said.

Stouffer said some students are on waiting lists to get into some programs while others still have some space. Students have to go through an intensive interview and application process before being admitted to a program, Hammann said.

Stouffer said that in the future, admission into the school's programs may be even more competitive.

He said last year, the Technical High School had the highest attendance rate and one of the lowest dropout and suspension rates among high schools in the system.

"Students want to be here for a reason," Stouffer said.

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