While the finishing touches are still underway at the academy, the students are already driving at full speed. Twenty welding stations are already full. The automotive lab has four elevators, and small engine repair courses are already full. The teachers say that the interest is not there.
“(It’s) amazing. I love stopping here every morning and seeing this Moorhead High School Career Academy sign in front of the building knowing this is the future of education,” said Jeff Schneider, welding instructor. “People thought the trades were just a calling, second place to get a four-year degree, but now our plumbers, carpenters, electricians and welders earn as much as our engineers. “
Besides traditional trades, there are also high-tech courses. Aeronautics, graphics and marketing, and soon esports.
“It tells me that there is a push for trades in the industry, which we have needed for a long time,” said John Clancy, an aviation and small engine repair instructor. “We have a shortage of jobs in almost every industry you can find and the fact that we have so much interest is really encouraging.”
What’s happening in these classrooms will also fill a critical need at a time when so many restaurants are looking for help, Moorhead students are learning to become chefs in a state-of-the-art kitchen.
It’s all part of a changing landscape for the way high schools educate our local students. The approach is to meet these students where they are at with what they want to do.
“Lots more hands-on stuff, learn more about motors and welding. Economics and stuff like that,” student Will Borud said.
Students say traditional classrooms with lessons and homework may work for some, but not for all.
“It’s very convenient. You’ll be using a lot of the classes you take here in life,” student CJ Moorhe said. “Life isn’t just math, science, English. A lot of it is welding, engines, a lot of automobiles, the arts, all of the above.”
The career academy is planning even more programs like medical labs with simulators, helping the new high school take shape in Moorhead.