Though some minor construction remains to be finished, the Mason County Career Magnet School is ready for students to return on Sept. 28.
During a tour of the building on Friday, Principal Andrew Matheny discussed the different pathways that will be offered in the school.
Those pathways include construction technology, machine tool, electricity, auto technology, health sciences and welding. Students will have the opportunity to graduate with two certifications.
According to Matheny, there will be about 20 students attending all day, while the remaining students will only go for part of the day, as they have been doing at the Area Technology Center. There will be about 125-150 students in the building at one time with a total of 250-300 in and out throughout the day.
Students who attend all day will attend their pathway classes as well as some virtual classes from the high school. They will also be served lunch in the building.
Machine Tool Instructor Corey Arthur said students can graduate with certifications that would get them on construction sites.
“They get some hands-on experience,” he said. “We start with the foundations. Before the shutdown, we were doing some restoration at one of the press boxes on the practice field and the students did very well there. We repaired some fence at the STEAM academy. We’ve done some handicap ramps. When they leave here, we try to have them NCCER certified and that will get them onto various construction sites. They’ll leave with their OSHA 10 certifications.”
Health sciences teacher Diana Parker said students in her program start off with medical terminology and the basics.
“We build upon that and we put them in the Medicaid nurse aide program,” she said. “We do about 28 skills and I teach them how to be an aide at the nursing home level. We’ve also added MNA2, which means you can be Medicaid and Medicare, so they can do some finger sticks and more advanced practice.”
There is also patient care technician and pharm tech that students who do not wish to be MNA can go through.
“Pharm tech was added this year,” she said. “We’re training a group to be pharmacy technicians. We’re going to send them out into the community, as COVID-19 allows to get some hands-on experience.”
Students completing the program can also receive college credits.
“I believe that in high school, you need to have a safety net,” she said. “They’re still doing college courses, too. We’ve had some people graduate from our program who are halfway through college. That’s pretty impressive for an 18-year-old.”
There is also a common area for students.
“Of course, with COVID-19 restrictions, we have to lower the number of students we can have in the common area at one time,” he said.
The total cost of the project is about $4.5 million, according to Jackson.
“There are districts who complete projects of this size for $18 million or more,” he said.
Jackson also said the other school districts pay about $5,000 per year to cover the cost of the instructional assistant.
“The majority of the burden is on Mason County, but we also have about 65-70 percent of the kids here,” he said. “The state gives us, for all districts, about $75,000 to $80,000. The state provides the teachers. Mason County is providing an instructional assistant and an English and math teacher once a day to teach the kids.”
Mason County Schools Superintendent Rick Ross said he was looking forward to having the students in the new building at the end of the month.
“These kids are going from the most outdated building in the district to the most up-to-date one,” he said.
Augusta Independent School Superintendent Lisa McCane said the magnet school will be a great addition to the area for students.
“The MCCMS is a state-of-the-art facility the students, staff, and school districts can be proud of and will serve the area well for generations to come,” she said. “Today, career and technical education programs require a well-planned environment to effectively implement highly advanced technical and skilled career programs. Several years of planning have been in the works and it is great to finally see the end result. I applaud the forward-thinking of Superintendent Rick Ross and the Mason County Board of Education for their commitment and support of the school.”
Bracken County Schools Superintendent Jeff Aulick said he was excited about the facility.
“We’re very excited,” he said. “This will be an opportunity for students with a 21st-century building. We want to thank Mr. Ross and the Mason County Board of Education for taking the steps to make this possible.”
Robertson County Superintendent Sanford Holbrook said he also believes it will be a good school for students in the area.
“The magnet school is going to be a great learning environment for all area students,” he said.