A New Branch
Nicholas Williams, Division 2, 12th grade #ws18e-s3d2

Walking into the 5th class of the day, a seat is taken and a biology textbook is taken out. This book was a friend’s textbook, who had got it from their friend, who had got it from theirs; each individual having taken the same course that is being taken now. In fact, majority of the high school students sat in these same exact shoes, which poses the question, “why?” Why are all high school students funneled down this path or a similar path of enhancing “reading” or “math” skills? Where is the diversity that is reflective of the opportunities found within the real world?

For every course that we choose to add to our schedule the following year of school, we add a new potential branch onto our own tree of life. One student may be adamant about taking Biology or Spanish for a multitude of reasons including “I heard it was an easy class,” or, “I need to satisfy a requirement,” however, both of these courses, along with these reasons, are ones that the general population of high school students have heard about within their daily routines. A transformation therefore needs to occur, in which, I propose this: as opposed to funneling everyone into certain fields of main stream science, math, or literature, allow the diversity of classes offered at colleges and universities to be reflected into the curriculum of high school in order to allow the average high school student to explore potential future avenues more in depth and to generate a love for learning due to a sense of independence and self-worth within the students.

This world is making vast new discoveries everyday and a demand for new occupations and new fields of exploration are calling for a more diversely educated population. A higher, more advanced education is not what is lacking, but rather a consideration for all fields of work. Only now is the idea of “trade school” being integrated as an option by guidance counselors during their presentations on life after high school, which, before this decade, was go to college or be a nobody. An emphasis on trade schools and interaction from professionals from diverse fields have a place in the public-school system, allowing for more job opportunities and security in the future along with a greater quality of life for individuals who, without these opportunities, are stuck wondering, “what am I to do with the knowledge that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell?”

One prime example is the LeonWorks Junior Apprenticeship program. Leon county of Tallahassee Florida has allowed students to work three hours a day, Monday through Friday, under the guise of trained professionals in fields of information technology, health and wellness, and automotive repairs. Being exposed to industry standards and a business environment is enriching to students, and as a reward, the students receive a salary and are given elective credit hours towards their high school career graduate requirements. This type of encouragement is needed within all school systems, with a broader, more diverse array of occupations to shadow within in order to get on the job experience. Three-dimensional rendering software architects or local meteorologists could be prompted by local school boards to give presentations and accept interns at local construction companies or weather stations, both of which are not main stream occupations to go into, but occupations seen within everyday life that need attention.

Outside of getting on the job training, the curriculum of high schools should also be mixed up in terms of what a student needs to take to satisfy graduate “requirements.” One common trope that can be updated is the requirement of two years of a foreign language in order to graduate. With this new age of technology, new languages are being invented everyday in the form of code. Coding classes such as intro to JavaScript or website design with HTML/CSS prepare students to become entrepreneurs within whatever field that they wish to pursue, getting to bypass working for another company when they can do all the necessary organization, advertisement and website building themselves. Allowing this to satisfy the two-year foreign language requirement would give incentive for students to explore entrepreneurship. Similarly, training in project management, or how to integrate “group projects” into the real world, is essential to creating a successful business. Establishing a proper project scope while holding meetings and meeting deadlines is exactly what students do whenever they do group projects, but emphasis is not placed on real world application.

The information and experience found within this essay was discovered in a fine arts requirement course titled digital design one. I was one of the lucky students to stumble on it and by the end of this year, I will be completing digital design four and graduating with six separate certifications within the adobe suite with the title of “Certified Digital Adobe Associate.” However, I am one of two students who have had this opportunity out of a class of five hundred. The benefits of programs such as this one are tremendous and therefore need to be more widely promoted across the school boards outside of seeing the title of these classes on course selection forms.

In conclusion, a larger diversity of classes and career fields, if brought to high schools and promoted at an equal level to that of main stream Science, English, or Math courses, will allow for a revival of passion that can be found within learning, increasing the overall quality of life and success rate among students as they are able to follow their dream jobs and grow a new branch on the tree of life.
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