SOUTH WHITLEY — Whitko Community Schools announced details on its Whitko Career Academy ahead of its inaugural academic year in the fall of 2020.
In September 2019, Whitko began a partnership with The 80/20 Foundation Trust and The Community Foundation of Whitley County to announce Whitko Career Academy, scheduled to open its doors this fall. Students will begin signing up for courses at WCA toward the end of February.
The academy comes during an upward period for the school corporation. The district recently saw a decrease in its tax rate, raised the pay rate for staff and received a Career Ladders Grant from the State of Indiana.
Whitko Career Academy will be in the former Whitko Middle School off SR 5 and US 30 in Larwill and will provide an educational environment that creates additional practical learning opportunities for students within the school district. Partnerships with The 80/20 Foundation Trust and The Whitley County Community Foundation paved the way for students to pursue futures in fields such as manufacturing, technology, agriculture and education.
The two non-profit organizations provided approximately $450,000 of seed funding toward the program, according to Whitko Superintendent Dr. Brandon Penrod.
The WCA exists to provide students with learning opportunities, said WCA Director Joe Luce, “should they decide to go a different route,” than a traditional education program.
Luce sees the program as a great opportunity “for a young, up and coming workforce.”
According to Whitko Jr./Sr. High School Principal Jake Everett, the WCA is an extension of WJSHS.
Students will begin and end their day at WJSHS in South Whitley. Students in eighth, ninth and tenth grades will attend WCA in the morning. Students in 11th and 12th grade will attend WCA after lunch in the afternoon and return to finish out the last period of the day at WJSHS. A shuttle service will provide transportation.
The curriculum at WCA will align with Whitko’s graduation pathway requirements. Students will be allowed to earn their diploma thought courses at WCA. Though the WCA, students have the opportunity to earn their general, Core 40 or honors diploma in conjunction with a Technical CTE diploma. Course offerings will be divided by grade level. The offerings were developed by Joe Luce, WCA Director based on student interest surveys and input from community stakeholders.
A complete listing of course offerings for all grades may be viewed here.
Eighth-grade students will complete course work their first year at WCA after selecting a “pod” or course path concentrating on business or personal growth. These courses will lay the foundation for students’ educational experience at WCA and their futures, according to Everett.
Curriculum for ninth-grade students will be split into three “academies” or specialized career interests; skills trade, public service and agriculture. “Each student is required to choose one academy,” said Everett. Starting in ninth grade, students will be able to take advantage of an agriculture option.
The option would allow students to complete course requirements in a supervised independent study course completed during alternative school hours. The agriculture path will be open to students in the school corporation’s chapter of Future Farmers of America. The FFA requires students to take an ag-focused course to retain membership. The agriculture path will continue through the 12th-grade year for those enrolled at WCA.
Students in ninth and tenth grade will be allowed to change “academies” once per year. The process is would be similar to changing classes in a traditional classroom setting.
Students in 10th grade will be able to choose from three more specialized course categories; Engineering, Nursing and Agriculture. Each student is required to choose one and may switch course categories once during the school year.
Starting in the 11th grade, students will be able to take advantage of a Career Technical Education Concentrated course category in addition to the Engineering and Agriculture categories.
Offerings for 12th-grade students is limited to courses within the CTE Concentrated Academy and the agriculture option.
Everett acknowledged the limited courses offered in the program’s inaugural academic year. “We don’t want to offer too much and fail right away,” he said. “We want to make sure we get this right.”
More courses will be added as the program grows, according to Everett. If a course based on a student’s interest isn’t offered, Everett encouraged parents to contact Luce, WCA Director. “Luce will aid in finding resources for the students if asked,” he said.
“Ideas are valued,” said Luce. He welcomes thoughts and suggestions from the community.
“My email is open 24/7,” he said. Luce’s email is [email protected]
Everett and Luce encourage parents to contact them with any questions as WCA nears its launch date.