Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Diploma option could boost Hillsborough career center enrollment

TAMPA — For years, students at Bowers/Whitley Career Center got training they needed to fix cars, check vital signs and cook catered meals.

What they didn't get was a standard high school diploma.

That's about to change, said principal Anthony Colucci, who hopes a new diploma option will make the north Tampa school more attractive to families whose kids are failing in high school.

"It's like when they start selling tacos at McDonald's," said Colucci, although he wants his students to set their sights a lot higher than fast food.

The change results from a law that took effect in October, offering two diploma tracks at Florida high schools. One is geared toward college, the other toward careers.

Students at Bowers/Whitley have always been able to earn performance-based diplomas, which have some but not all the requirements of regular diplomas. Or they could take and pass the GED test.

Despite the need for such training options when regular school isn't working out, it's sometimes hard to get parents to buy in.

"They tell us, 'No, I want my kid to get a regular diploma,' " said assistant principal Thomas Saxton.

Under a new system that starts this year, students can earn an accelerated diploma that requires 18 credit hours instead of the usual 24, and a grade point average of 2.0. They can fill some of their elective requirements with courses they take in their career programs, Saxton said.

He and Colucci hope the option will boost enrollment at the school, which has 300 students and can accommodate 400.

Not all of Hillsborough's four career high schools have gone the same course where diploma options are concerned.

"Each of those schools has a little bit different population," said Warren Brooks, the district's general director of adult, career and technical education.

"And it kind of depends on the kid, what they're going through and what's going to work for them."

At South County Career Center in Ruskin, some students already transferred in from Lennard High School, hoping to earn the 18-credit diplomas. Some could finish this summer, principal Sandra Bailey said.

In Plant City, Simmons Career Center has always offered standard diplomas, principal Cleto Chazares said.

Of this year's 77 Simmons graduates, 22 will get standard diplomas, he said. One student won a Bailey Family Foundation scholarship for $20,000.

At Bowers/Whitley, incoming students often are perilously close to leaving school entirely, Colucci said.

"You're in 10th grade. You've failed twice," he said, describing the typical student the school hopes to attract. "Or you're 16 and still in ninth grade. You hate school. You're not going to earn 24 credits. You're thinking about dropping out."

The 18-credit diploma represents a compromise to satisfy families who don't want their kids to drop out but are not content with a performance diploma or taking the GED.

"This really helps us with all the parents who are still looking at the GED as a big stigma," Saxton said.

It also can help students after they enter the workforce, when opportunities arise that require diplomas.

"We always want to get them employed," Brooks said. "But we also want, two or three years down the road, for them to be promotable."

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or sokol@tampabay.com.

Career training

Hillsborough County offers career training to high school students at Bowers/Whitley, D.W. Waters, Simmons and South County high schools. To qualify, students must be at least 16 and a year behind in their studies, with no history of aggressive behavior or severe discipline problems.

>>fast facts

Career training

Hillsborough County offers career training to high school students at Bowers/Whitley, D.W. Waters, Simmons and South County high schools. To qualify, students must be at least 16 and a year behind in their studies, with no history of aggressive behavior or severe discipline problems.

Diploma option could boost Hillsborough career center enrollment 05/26/14 [Last modified: Monday, May 26, 2014 10:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Culpepper falls just short on 'Survivor' finale

    Human Interest

    In the end, Tampa lawyer Brad Culpepper fell just short, and the ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneer lost Survivor: Game Changers and the $1 million prize to Sarah Lacina, a police officer from Iowa.

  2. Families dispute claims that slain Tampa Palms roommates shared neo-Nazi beliefs

    Crime

    TAMPA — Andrew Oneschuk never liked making small talk on the phone, his father said, but the last time the two spoke, something seemed off.

    Andrew Oneschuk and Jeremy Himmelman lived in a Tampa Palms apartment with Devon Arthurs and Brandon Russell. Oneschuk and Himmelman reportedly planned to move out.
  3. Brad Culpepper makes it to final 3 on Survivor, but jury picks Sarah

    The Feed

    UPDATE, WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Tampa's Brad Culpepper make it to the final 3 on Survivor, but jurors chose Sarah as the winner of the $1 million.

    Original report follows:

    "The Tables Have Turned" - Brad Culpepper, Tai Trang and Hali Ford on the fourth episode of SURVIVOR: Game Changers on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Jeffrey Neira/CBS Entertainment
  4. Steven Souza Jr. snaps out of slump as Rays defeat Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — After Tuesday's shutout loss to the Angels, Steven Souza Jr. stood in front of his locker and talked about his need to contribute to the offense.

    Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jesus Sucre (45) hugs right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) in the dugout after his two run home run in the second inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, May 24, 2017.
  5. Tom Jones: Rays made right move sending Blake Snell to minors

    The Heater

    tom jones' two cents

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Blake Snell’s struggles on the mound were only one of the reasons the Rays sent him to the minors; some other red flags existed. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]