Kentucky Interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis visited Mason County STEAM Academy on Monday to hear from students who are taking classes in various career pathways.
Along with Lewis, Mason County Schools Superintendent Rick Ross, Fleming County Schools Superintendent Brian Creasman, Lewis County Schools Superintendent Jamie Weddington, Sen. Steve West and Mason County High School Principal Seth Faulkner were present.
“We’re highlighting a few of our career pathways,” Faulkner said. “We’re really proud of our students. I love the shift from a traditional liberal arts education to a more career-based education. It’s giving these kids a chance to see what they might potentially want to do when they leave our doors and not change their majors in college 15 times, especially when they’re spending money to do so. We’ve got different pathways to highlight today.”
According to Ross, there are several dual-credit and advanced placement classes offered at the high school.
“We’ve increased these by 300 percent and we’re very proud,” Ross said. “We also have a full choir, orchestra and band. We’ve kind of wrapped it all up with our Royal Diploma.”
Ross told guests that students begin working on the Royal Diploma in Kindergarten.
“They begin working on collaboration, cooperation and things like that,” he said. “Second grade, fifth grade, eighth grade are all exit grades and our seniors have to do presentations. Our kids are very passionate.”
He shared a five minute video about the Royal Diploma.
Each of the students took 30 seconds to talk about what they are studying and why they chose that pathway.
Pearce Clark, a senior at MCHS, said he is studying computer science.
“Computer science has taught me the value of problem solving skills and the value of technology literacy,” he said.
Chloe Adams, a senior at MCHS, said she is studying engineering.
“I started the first year we ever did engineering in middle school,” eh said. “I’ve stayed with it since eighth grade. It’s taught me what I really wanted to do because I was clueless. I’ve learned problem solving and it’s helped me with my math classes. I’ve learned practical ways to use my math lessons.”
Nathan Adkins said he has also been in engineering.
“It’s taught me how to work with my peers and work together to solve problems,” he said.
Lewis asked the students about their goals for the future.
“I’m looking at the course offerings — how do you guys make decisions about the courses you want to take?”
Clarke said he takes a lot of classes for fun, but also bases many on his own pathway.
“When we were freshmen and sophomores, we talked to the counselors about helping with the different pathways,” he said. “As a junior and senior, you’re more responsible and you have a closer idea of what you want to do and you can base your classes off that.”
Other students also said they based their choices on what career pathway they chose.
Lewis told the students that things are different for students today than when he was in school.
“If you asked us, when we were in 12th grade, what we were going to do, we might have spotted out majors or told you what colleges we were thinking about, but we wouldn’t have had the same opportunity to scout out careers like you do today. That opportunity is incredible and you should pat yourselves on the back for taking advantage of that. I’m really excited for everything that is coming for you.”
West said he was proud of the accomplishments by the district and the students.
“You guys can write your own ticket,” West said. “When we were coming up, we didn’t have nearly the amount of opportunities you have today. The sky is the limit for you guys.”
After the meeting, Clarke said he enjoyed being able to talk about his future with Lewis.
“It was a rewarding experience,” he said. “If you’d asked me my freshman year about what I wanted to do, I probably would have said accounting, but now things are different. After all of the work we’ve put it, it was really neat to be able to talk about it.”