Career Center begins three new programs

Alana Vantress thought being a nurse would be gross.

But after sewing together a chicken leg in the Career Center’s new health care preparation program without gagging, she’s hooked on the idea of entering the medical field.

“At first I just thought it would be something new to try,” the 17-year-old Fruita Monument High School junior said of the program. “I never thought about (nursing) but now I’ve put a lot of thought into it as a career.”

Vantress is one of 25 students in the new health care preparation program, one of three programs new to the Career Center this fall, along with a property management and an energy class. Students from local high schools can attend the Career Center for part of the day to learn a trade, ranging from computer repair to floriculture.

The Career Center’s School to Work Alliance Program conducted a job needs analysis last year to help the center decide which programs it should add to meet local employment demands. The health care preparation program pairs well with the variety of medical jobs in the Grand Valley, according to Career Center Principal Pat Chapin. The other two new programs both are part of the center’s existing construction program. Property management teaches students home repairs in response to home remodeling becoming more prevalent in recent years as new home construction has slowed. The energy class teaches students about alternative energy sources such as solar power as well as how to tackle a career in the oil and gas industry.

“If we can specialize, that will give students a benefit when they go out into the workforce,” Chapin said.

Mike Wells, who teaches the energy class to eight students, said the course will be full of field trips, classroom visits from energy employees and projects, such as building solar concentrators. He said blending alternative and traditional energy methods into one course makes sense.

“A lot of the same practices are used in both so we figured why not try to meld those two together,” he said.

Property management instructor David Garrick said his 13 students will learn how to winterize homes, operate swamp coolers, repair irrigation systems and perform basic maintenance. Garrick said he hopes his students will help fill the void as baby boomers retire from plumbing, carpentry and similar jobs but he believes the skills they’ll learn in his class will be valuable no matter what career they pick.

“They may not choose this as a profession but learning how to do this in your own house is important,” he said.

Health care preparation teacher Keri Dennison said she has students who want to become firefighters, paramedics, nurses and veterinarians. Many have told her it’s their favorite class.

“They choose this class so I know they want to be here,” she said.


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