Jason Koon The Herald of News
Burke Middle College, a Burke County high school operating on the campus of Western Piedmont Community College, will host an information meeting Thursday for students interested in attending the school and their families.
In addition to general school information, BMC officials will present recent changes to the school’s structure and programming. These changes have been developed in partnership with the WPCC and local business and industry leaders to give BMC students the skills and certifications they will need to be ready for the job market when they graduate. diploma.
Christie Abernathy, director of higher education and director of BMC, said the changes were developed in response to statistics showing that a majority of BMC graduates tended to steer away from transferring to colleges and universities in four years and enter the labor market directly.
“When we really started looking at the percentage that finished with a two-year degree and what they did after that…it was staggering, the percentage that just stayed here,” she said.
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Last year, four separate academies were created within the school: the Business Academy, the Health Care Academy, the Trade Academy and the University Academy. Within each academy, students are grouped into cohorts based on their degree or certificate.
Students in each cohort have similar schedules, allowing them to collaborate, form study groups, and build a strong support network among themselves. Abernathy said it’s common to find students from these cohorts on campus between classes studying for tests, finishing assignments or enjoying a break with a game of volleyball.
BMC students also have smaller high school class sizes, modified high school class schedules that are more compatible with their college class schedules, and a weekly seminar to explore career options, provide academic support, develop skills in life and promote teamwork.
Abernathy said this shift in focus actually brings BMC closer to the school’s original vision when it was established in 2006.
“When Burke Middle was originally created…it was a grant based on (vocational and technical education) to help students find jobs and prepare for a career when they left the campus,” Abernathy said. “Due to several factors, the surge in the early years there were more students in two years who were interested in a transfer degree, so I think over the years it has formed a very strong university academy where students were pursuing associate degrees and going to college.
Abernathy said the past few years have made it clear that it’s time to refocus attention on preparing students with job-ready skills while continuing to serve those preparing to transfer to a four-year school. year.
In addition to helping students earn associate degrees in arts or sciences, the University Academy also offers a teacher preparation cohort and an engineering cohort. Both of these transfer degrees help students meet the prerequisites for transferring to a college or university to complete their bachelor’s degree in the same academic field. Earning the transfer degree offers significant financial savings to students and families and prepares students for the rigors of college coursework.
The Business Academy offers degrees in accounting, business administration, information technology and will add a paralegal technology cohort beginning in fall 2023. Students graduating from these programs will be ready to enter the workforce immediately after graduation.
The Healthcare Academy gives students the opportunity to become a certified practical nurse and earn a diploma or certificate in medical assisting. The pre-nursing program also helps students complete the prerequisites necessary to apply for the WPCC nursing program after graduation from high school. BMC also benefited from a partnership with UNC Health Blue Ridge providing internships, scholarships and job shadowing opportunities for students.
At the Trades Academy, students can earn a cosmetology degree or earn a certificate or diploma in cosmetology or manicurist/nail technology. The Mechatronics Engineering degree offers students the opportunity to explore mechanical, electrical, and industrial engineering, preparing them to work in a variety of industrial applications. The Trades Technology cohort also offers the opportunity to earn stackable certificates in areas such as welding, building construction, HVAC, machining, and heavy equipment operations.
The briefing will take place on Thursday, September 22 at 6 p.m. in the Leviton Auditorium on the WPCC campus.
At the meeting, students and parents or guardians can register to attend an open house on Tuesday, October 4 where they can tour the WPCC campus, meet BMC faculty and students, and hear from WPCC instructors. on the programs and possibilities offered by the partnership with the college.
Students are encouraged to pre-register for both events.
Applications for the 2023-2024 school year will be open from October 15 to January 15. Applications and admission requirements can be found on the BMC website at https://bit.ly/3BTiaNc.