ALGONQUIN – Next school year, students in School District 300 can choose from a wider pool of "pathway" programs intended to prepare students for college and careers.
Building on efforts to launch programs this school year, the district added eight Pathway Programs for next year to make 11 total, each of which includes a sequence of recommended courses in the different career fields.
"We saw a lot of student interest this year in Pathway Programs," Chief Academic Officer Benjamin Churchill said. "We started with three this year."
Designed to give students real-world career experience and skills, the programs that will be launched next year range from early childhood development to welding to graphic design, a district news release said.
Offering programs that more intensely hone a student's path toward a chosen career will help those who plan to enter the workforce earlier, but it also is aimed at giving college-bound students a baseline for their preferred fields, Churchill said.
The release said students who register for the programs could ultimately earn internships with local businesses and dual-credit course offerings through Elgin Community College, where students would attend ECC during the school day and receive both high school and college credit.
Eighth-graders and freshmen can begin talking to their counselors to register for the pathway programs, not all of which will be offered at all three high schools.
At Dundee-Crown High School, students can choose from programs in early childhood development; electrical technology; elementary and secondary education; entrepreneurship; and STEM/engineering.
At Hampshire High School, the choices include advanced manufacturing; early childhood development; elementary and secondary education; and welding.
Students at Jacobs High School can choose from digital and print production; graphic design; information technology and computer science; and web design and development.
Students who want to enroll in a program that is not offered at their base school can apply for an intra-district transfer, which means the student would then be eligible for athletics and other activities at the school they transfer to. Participation means enrolling and successfully completing at least one course in the pathway each year. Those who choose to do that will have to remain in the program each year or face a mandatory transfer back to their base building, the release said.
Superintendent Fred Heid said he does not anticipate the new programs will have a "significant impact" on staffing, but transportation will be provided by the district at no extra cost to the student.
"Our hope is they [students] continue to flourish in the programs," he said, adding the district is already looking into potential additions for the 2017-18 school year, such as pre-nursing or EMT programs. "Our expectations are high."