By CHERIL VERNON
Palestine Independent School District trustees and other personnel toured the recently completed Career Technology Education building on the Palestine High School campus Monday during a board meeting.
Not only did board members tour the facility, but school personnel and students from every department were on hand to show how the new building is improving its career and technology programs, giving short presentations and slideshows in several classrooms.
The tour ended with a light meal prepared by the culinary arts students in their state-of-the-art kitchen and served in the Wildcat Cafe.
A tour of the CTE building for parents and community members is scheduled for January.
“It’s amazing that the school board recognized the CTE program as important to the district and were willing to spend the district’s money to make these renovations possible, making opportunities available to students,” CTE Director Cody Tunstall said following the tour Monday. “We want students to be college-ready, if possible, but not every student will be going to college, so we want all of them to at least be career-ready.
“We have over 900 students at the high school and we hope all 900 of them will be ready to go to work after graduation. We are doing our best to prepare them.”
The board members toured classrooms in the CTE building ranging from: health science; cosmetology; industrial technology; agriculture science; animal science; criminal justice; STEM (science technology, engineering and mathematics); architecture and construction; audio/video technology and communications; culinary arts and more.
General contractor representatives from Buford Thompson Company — Ben Germany and Terry Gober — were on hand to lead the tour of the completed building along with Marshall.
“I want to thank Terry and Ben for all of the work they have been doing. I’ve always wanted to do a ‘design build’ and I really appreciate them working with us on this project,” PISD Superintendent Jason Marshall said. “I really appreciate the school board members for providing the facility. It’s more than rejuvenating a building — it’s given us the opportunity to offer more programs to the kids.”
Agriculture science teacher Sam Stanley was among the instructors on hand for the tour, showing the school board members the cutting-edge computer-aided design (CAD) technology the students are using in their classroom.
“We are using the latest and greatest and we are learning right along with the kids,” Stanley said. “Compared to what we used to have, this is heaven on earth, very nice.”
Future Farmers of America Vice President Amanda Taylor said the new building has made an impression on her educational career. Four FFA officers were among the 20-plus students on hand for the tour.
“I’m a senior so it’s nice to have all of this available to students and a good classroom to learn in,” Taylor said.
In Marc Hughes’ criminal justice classes, students expressed excitement at the new classes offered -- such as forensic science, introduction to criminal justice, court system and practices and correctional systems and practices -- that can transfer over to Texas public universities as dual credit.
“We have 160 students – a pretty high number in these classes,” Hughes said.
Student Crystal Ferguson said the criminal justice classes she has taken under Hughes has led her to a desire to become a police officer working with a canine unit.
“He not only made the class fun, but he taught us how to learn on a college level,” Ferguson said.
Student Willis Foley enjoys taking forensic science.
“I have an interest in chemistry and biology, so I’ve enjoyed the forensic science class. Not only did I learn to do investigations using common sense and logical thinking patterns, but I learned about different careers and I’m getting dual credit for them,” Foley said.
In many areas, the new facilities allow for more opportunities, such as for students involved in the newly-formed Robotics Club. A couple of students gave demonstrations of their robotic projects during the tour.
“Our Robotics Club is looking to have a competition in Region 7 next year. We’re looking forward to great things and getting students exposed to what is out there in the world,” STEM coordinator Joseph Baker said.
In the audio/visual technology, yearbook and broadcast journalism department, instructor Cori Peters’ students are using some of the most state-of-the-art equipment available.
“I have been told we have computers that are a little better than the ABC network in Chicago,” Peters said. “And our students use Final Cut Pro software that professionals in the film industry in Hollywood are using.”
Students especially enjoy using the news broadcasting studio and its “green screen” and eventually plan to air their school news broadcasts on cable channel 14 in the future, through a partnership with the local cable company, Peters said.
During the business portion of the school board meeting prior to the tour, the board:
• APPROVED minutes of the special meeting on Dec. 10, bills paid for November, budget amendments and donations.
• HEARD the financial report, monthly investment report and tax collection report.
• HEARD Marshall’s report on the 83rd Legislative Session preparations.
• ANNOUNCED the board of trustees’ annual continuing education credits.