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Vocational center to build new facility

Last Modified: Thursday, February 27, 2014 10:30 AM

By Frank DiCesare / American Press

College Street Vocational Center officials will break ground next month on a new Lake Charles facility, which will enable high school students to spend more time on craft training.

The new 8,263-square-foot academic center will allow high school juniors and seniors this fall to take required core classes on campus. Justin Mahoney, vocational centers coordinator, said the new building will allow students to remain on campus all day without having to travel back to their high schools. 

The academic center, which will be on the northern section of campus, will house four classrooms, a computer lab and conference room, Mahoney said. He said students who spend all day on campus will have more time to spend on their vocational classes. 

“If they need to take an algebra class, they can take it here,” he said. “They will still be considered a student at their high school. But they will be able to come here and take that same class.”

Mahoney said core classes at College Street will be taught from a vocational standpoint. For instance, students will learn geometry in the classroom and then move to the shop to see how its rules are applied in construction. 

English classes will focus on technical writing skills and not literature, Mahoney said. He said all classes taken at College Street are approved credit hours students earn for graduation.

Mahoney said the academic center is expected to be completed in 180 days. He said school officials estimate that at least 600 high school students will enroll next fall for classes at College Street’s Lake Charles and Westlake campuses.

Students interested in applying for College Street’s core classes and vocational programs can pick up a packet at their school. Mahoney said students can pick their top two craft programs in which to enroll.

“Students request these courses, and we put those kids into those particular classes,” he said. “We don’t turn anybody away unless there’s a really good reason.”

Construction on College Street’s Lake Charles campus will include a new welding classroom. Mahoney said the school’s 30-year-old welding classroom is the oldest part of the facility and needs to be updated. The current welding classroom will be demolished, and a new one will be built on its site and will connect to the welding shop.

Work on the new welding classroom should begin in the next couple of weeks, Mahoney said.

College Street will also add plumbing and pipefitting programs to its curriculum this fall. Plumbing classes will be held at College Street’s Lake Charles campus; pipefitting will be offered at its Westlake location. Both programs will offer certification through the National Center for Construction Education and Research.

“We have a shortage of plumbers and pipefitters in our area,” Mahoney said. “We have a major plumbing shortage, and there’s just too much work. We can’t really provide for the community the way we should be.

“With pipefitting there’s such a need and so few people going into that field,” he said. “With all this expansion that we’re about to go through with Sasol and all the other plants, there’s just not enough pipefitters out there.”

Mahoney said College Street is also working on offering night courses.

“We’re trying to get the workforce trained to meet the demand that’s coming up,” he said. “We just don’t have the people. And it’s not just plumbers and pipefitters; it’s welders, it’s electricians, it’s all of the fields where we’re going to have a shortage.”

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