Central High School career specialist Jennifer Ball invited the 24 students who enrolled in the school's new Academy of International Business and Marketing to a breakfast recently. The idea was for them to get to know one another and the adults who will advise them along the way through the program. The academy is one of four that opened at each high school this year. Hernando High School has a Veterinary and Agriscience Technology Academy. Springstead High School offers a Web Design Academy, and Nature Coast Technical High School has a Health Academy.
The academies prepare students to achieve industry certifications, such as Adobe certification at Springstead or veterinary assistant certification at Hernando.
Ball described the academies as having majors in high school similar to college. Each school has an advisory council. Her breakfast was a "meet and greet" for her students and Central's advisory council.
As her students sat around tables eating bacon and french toast, some shared their reasons for streamlining their high school educations and what their plans are for the future.
Samantha Frausto, 15, is a sophomore and said she choose the academy because she hopes to study business, marketing, accounting and finance at the University of South Florida.
Two young men in the room have ambitious goals that they hope the academy will help them attain.
Junior Ryan Collins, 16, and senior Dalton Whitelaw, 17, want to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, become pilots and own their own airlines. Dalton is the chapter president of the student business organization, DECA.
Junior Zachary Martin, 16, hopes to go to Northwood University in West Palm Beach. "I'm going into business finance," he said. He enrolled in the academy "to get courses to help."
Junior Michelle Venezia, 16, said she is in the academy "because I want to major in business and marketing when I get older. I love all aspects of the business world." Michelle is the school's DECA vice president and wants to run for the state DECA vice president. She hopes to attend the University of Central Florida.
Sophomore Kelly Nelson, 15, said she learned a lot about marketing in her freshman year. She is in the academy to build on that. She is interested in a medical career and says that business and medicine "really join together." Kelly hopes to attend USF to study physical therapy.
Junior Jennifer Davison, 16, is interested in marketing and business. "You have to market yourself for jobs," she said. She would like to attend USF to study journalism and is interested in working for a magazine. "You can use journalism in a lot of ways," she said.
• At Springstead, Barbara Jensen is the career specialist, and Joyce Cheze is the Web design teacher. Cheze said there are about 80 students in her school's academy, which caters to college-bound students as well as those interested in technical or two-year degrees. The school is a test site for Adobe certification, and the school will pay for the test.
• Hernando High School's career specialist is Christine Kostis. The school has an agreement with St. Petersburg College that allows students to earn some college credits while taking high school academy courses, within specific guidelines.
Besides the students interested in veterinary medicine, Hernando's academy offers agriscience, where students deal with animal husbandry and handle the cattle and pigs on campus. The teacher is Richard Ahren, and the veterinarian adviser is Dr. Raul Figarola. Other advisers are veterinary assistant Michele King and animal trainer Kim Jeske.
• At Nature Coast Technical School, students interested in medical careers may enroll in the Health Science Education Program. The career specialist is Nicola Barlow. Classes available this year are Medical Skills, Health Science 1, Health Science 2, Allied Health Assisting, Nursing Assisting, and Anatomy and Physiology. Students have opportunities to do internships in the community.
The school offers a dual-enrollment class in medical terminology, and students who complete the health program may take exams to become certified nursing assistants or home health aides.