By Chris McGuinness
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen High School's cafeteria was packed with students who showed up to hear a presentation about what the Killeen Independent School District's new Career Center will offer them next year.
"There has been a lot of interest by the students in the high schools we've visited so far," said Alison Belliveau, a career technical education coordinator. "They are just as excited as we are about (the center)."
About 500 students attended a presentation by the center's administrators and teachers, who visited the high school to generate interest and recruit students for the 2012-13 school year.
The 42,000-square-foot center will serve students from all of the district's high schools and offer programs in nine career areas such as health science, information technology, audio/visual technology and communications, transportation, architecture and construction, and health science and corrections.
Students enrolled in the programs will not only graduate from high school with training, but will be able to earn professional certifications and licenses needed to get a job in their respective industries.
Students also will be required to learn "soft skills," such as communication, teamwork, business writing and other traits to help them land a job once they graduate.
"This campus is going to present a really unique opportunity to students," said Debbie Thompson, the executive director for career and technical education. "They will graduate with the knowledge and tools that will get them the job they want."
The building will include 59 classrooms with capacity for 1,400 students. It was part of a $26 million project that included the construction of the adjacent Pathways campus, which opened in August.
Keondra Donald, a Killeen High School sophomore, was one of the many students to speak with the center's 19 teachers who were on hand to pass out information and answer questions.
"It's really interesting," said Donald, who was considering the graphic design program. "I also think it would be really cool to be around kids who have the same interests and want the same career as you do."
Diana Furgeson, a cosmetology teacher who has been with the district for 27 years, said the center would not only bring students with similar interests together, but would allow the district to offer career programs to all its students.
"Some of the programs were at some high schools and not others, which made this difficult for some students," said Furgeson, who graduated from the district's cosmetology program in 1977. "With everything located under one roof, it will help those students and create a sense of unity."
Tuesday's event was the third in a series of presentations at the district's high schools. The center's administrators and teachers will be at Shoemaker High School between 10:15 and 11:30 a.m. Thursday for a fourth presentation.
The center is under construction at the corner of Trimmier and Stagecoach roads, near Patterson Middle School. It is scheduled to open in the fall.
Interested students should talk to their school counselors about attending the career center.
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568.