NEWINGTON - Although a lack of funding has put some programs on hold, the Career Academies at Newington High School offer students real-world experience before graduation.
The 143 students enrolled are seeking unpaid internships with local companies.
Three separate academies teach Culinary/Hospitality, Finance/Business Management and IT/Digital Innovation. Two unofficial academies, which still need staff funding, offer Aerospace Engineering and Biomedical Sciences.
Although actual courses for those last two remain just out of reach, students with interest in those fields are still being served. They attend speaker panels and visit local companies when opportunities become available.
Senior Gynno Bacaoco wants to be a biomedical engineer, so he signed up for both exploratory academies. In the fall he and fellow students took a field trip to CNC Master Cam, a small engineering company in Tolland.
“It allowed me access to people in the field,” Bacaoco said. “It’s an opportunity a lot of schools wouldn’t get.”
This spring, he’s hoping to land an internship with a physical therapist.
“Most times you have to go out and look for internships, but the counselors here help facilitate the process,” he said.
Internships are now a requirement for academy students in their junior or senior years. Several companies in the area have already welcomed student-interns, according to Career Academy counselor Rachel Arnett.
“Our goal is to place students ages 16 and up with professionals they can observe and work with to gain a greater understanding of what can be expected of them,” she explained. “We want to connect them with experiences and professionals so they can learn what is required of them to land a job in their field and maintain a career there.”
Once a match is made, the student goes on a preliminary job shadow.
Internship sites must operate out of an office, not a home and have an onsite supervisor who is willing to work directly with the student.
“If you can commit to show and teach the student, then the more rewarding it will be,” Arnett said. “All of our academy students are wonderful and unique and bring a lot to the table.”
They will be arriving with some knowledge as well, since most will have taken preparatory coursework in their field.
At present, there are 19 culinary students, 36 finance students and 38 IT students along with 16 taking part in aerospace activities and another 39 in biomedical programming.
Funding for the biomedical and engineering academies is contingent on the school district’s 2018-19 budget. The Board of Education has made staffing them a priority this year.
Meanwhile, students are meeting with local engineering and medical professionals whenever they get the chance.
A small group attended a recent employer panel led by Newington’s PCX Aerostructures. Senior Manufacturing Engineer Chris Aldrich and Vice President of Human Resources Craig Sullivan talked to students about working in the field.
“This is a hot industry right now,” Sullivan said. “There are a lot of companies like ours that are going to be hiring.”
Aldrich said the Career Academies put students ahead of the game.
“If you’ve had that STEM training, it’s certainly going to give you an advantage over other people who haven’t had the opportunity.”
Businesses interested in taking on an intern are asked to call Rachel Arnett at 860-666-5611, ext. 1263, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or email@example.com.