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State Funds New Career Program

December 20th, 2006 by Mike Vasilinda

High school students will soon have new options available to help them be ready to work after graduation. In her final news conference as Lieutenant Governor, Toni Jennings announced today that Okaloosa County will be getting a big check to help other school districts modernize their job training programs. Okaloosa’s CHOICE Institutes offer high school and college credit in programs ranging from aviation and aerospace to construction and hospitality. “ Okaloosa County has served as a model for these state programs. That’s why I am delighted today to announce a new $1 million grant from Workforce Florida to the Okaloosa County School District to establish the new ‘Employ Florida Banner Center for Career Academies.'” says Jennings.

Supporters say students who have attended Okaloosa’s programs get the hands-on experience they need to get hired after high school. State Senator Don Gaetz is a former school superintendent. “The unique feature of the CHOICE institutes is that the curriculum is developed by industry and not by public education. Industry tells us what they need and then we make sure it is academically rigorous and that it prepares students for high paying jobs in the regional economy.”

Students like Susan Betsayad a senior at Niceville High School say they feel like they’re learning something that will pay off in real life. “It’s given me ways to earn money whenever I graduate and also just different skills like leadership skills and it really has helped me work in groups all the time and so, it’s wonderful.”

State officials say the CHOICE programs are helping students at risk of dropping out see the relevance of high school. The million-dollar grant will help Okaloosa schools provide technical support to districts throughout the state that want to start their own career academies. For more information, log onto www.choiceinstitutes.com

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