Philipsburg-Osceola is putting a battery of new classes on the table for high school students this year.
The courses are aimed not at students seeking higher education, but those looking to join the workforce after high school.
“We needed to provide vast educational opportunities for students that have academic paths as well as career-oriented goals,” said Superintendent Gregg Paladina. “The vocational courses are a direct result of a study of our graduation rate.”
Philipsburg-Osceola sees 83 percent of high school students earn a diploma. Principal Robin Stewart would like to see that improve. So would Paladina, as graduation rates are one of the yardsticks the state and federal governments use to measure school performance.
“Our high school principals reviewed the information and developed a plan with the teachers to provide career guidance and courses, which would be beneficial to students who aren’t planning on attending a four-year college,” Paladina said.
After beefing up academic programs in recent years with an increased focus on Advanced Placement classes, more lang-uages and new opportunities in science and technology, this year the district is adding more for students who don’t intend to go to college after graduation.
The new roster of classes includes four math classes: algebra 1A and 1B, consumer math (teaching students about math in the everyday worlds of finances and taxes), and pre-AP pre-calculus. Also on deck are physics for work, a vocationally focused science class, and career readiness skills, which will teach students about interviewing, job shadowing and resume building.
Two classes will focus specifically on ninth-graders. Personal finance/money management will be a half-year class that all freshmen will take, similar to the “economics” half of old-school home economics classes, teaching basic household money skills. Technology for success will give the new high school students a foundation of computer skills that are becoming rudimentary in the job market, like word processing, spreadsheets and presentations.
In recent years, some board members have expressed concern that new programs were being directed at more academically minded students, leaving those with blue-collar ambitions feeling left out. This move addresses those issues, but administrators are careful to say they aren’t abandoning the strides they have made with their college-bound students.
“I just want to make it perfectly clear, however, that we will continue to strive toward enhancing opportunities for all students,” Paladina said. “Students will have the opportunity to earn more college credits in high school.”