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Schedule integrates Franklin County students

August 29, 2005|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

Chambersburg Area Senior High School students who attend the Franklin County Career and Technology Center will be operating on a new schedule this year, one that administrators for the high school and career center believe will help them in both academic and vocational instruction.

In past years, vocational students from Franklin County high schools have attended the career and technology center one semester and their home schools during the other, said James Duffey, director of the career and technology center.

Beginning today, however, the students from Chambersburg will attend the center in either the morning or afternoon while spending the other half of the day at the high school.

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"We want our career technology students to spend part of the day at their home school. To feel the connection to the high school," Chambersburg Associate Principal Christine Henn said Thursday. "With the half-day schedule, they'll be able to be part of our activities for the full year."

Henn said the new schedule will allow the career and technology students to be better integrated into high school life.

"We don't want them labeled or stigmatized as they have been in the past," Henn said. "All our career technology kids will have the same opportunities to take higher-level classes" at the high school, she said.

Under the old schedule, the career technology students were away from the high school for half the year and had to jam all the required academic courses in the other half, she said. That meant "double periods," class periods lasting about twice as long as those of other students, Henn said.

"We had a schedule within a schedule" that kept career technology students separate from other students even when they were in the high school, she said.

Of the 998 students enrolled at the center, 418 are from Chambersburg, said James Duffey, director of the career and technology center. Other students from the Waynesboro Area, Tuscarora, Greencastle-Antrim, Fannett-Metal and Shippensburg Area districts, he said, will continue the full-day, half-year schedule, he said.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Duffey said 76 percent of the state's career and technology centers operate on the half-day schedule and it could work for other districts in the county, with some variations.

While the Chambersburg students have the choice of attending the nearby center in either the morning or afternoon sessions, Duffey said other districts could find it more practical to send all their students in the morning or afternoon.

"The logistical issues have been related to transportation and also food service ... and ensuring the students get the required number of instructional hours," said Rick Vensel, business manager for the Chambersburg Area School District. In addition to bus transportation, Henn said the high school has set aside parking for career technology students who drive, so they can get to their cars more quickly.

"The main thing is the instruction is going to have to be a little more individualized," said Shawn Eckenrode, who is entering his seventh year teaching electronics and pre-engineering at the center. He said that will not be much of a change for him, because his day is spent mostly going from one student to another helping them achieve competency levels.

Career Center Principal Michelle Orner said the Chambersburg students will have as much instructional time at the center, if not more, to reach those goals.

Henn said co-op students, mostly seniors who work in their chosen trades for school credit, have been given preference in choosing mornings or afternoons at the center to better suit work schedules.

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