Forum to introduce parents, rising ninth-graders to high school

Published: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 14, 2011 at 7:54 p.m.

The Career Academy Forum will provide parents and students with one-stop shopping on information about 12 career academies offered to high school students in Alachua County Public Schools.

Nancy Iafrate, teacher specialist for career and technical education for the school district, said the forum is designed for students in the eighth grade and their parents, but everyone is welcome.

The Career Academy Forum will be held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at Buchholz High School, 5510 NW 27th Ave. Career Academy open houses will take place from Jan. 18-Feb. 15 at the various schools.

But if you can't make it to the forum or the open houses, you can get information by calling Iafrate at 353-955-7531 and going to the school district's website at

The deadline to apply to the many career academies is Feb. 25.

"Students can apply to as many academies as they want, and on March 17 they will know if they are accepted," said Iafrate, adding that students will then make a commitment to one program. To be accepted, Iafrate said a student must have at least a 2.0 or 2.5 GPA and a record of good behavior.

"The forum will provide an opportunity to learn what's available in the district all in one location," said Jackie Johnson, public information officer for Alachua County Public Schools. "And they can decide what programs they want to visit more closely at the open houses."

Below are career academies offered at various Alachua County high schools:

Santa Fe High School: Academy of Agriscience for students considering careers in veterinary medicine, veterinary assisting, agriculture or other related occupations, and the Institute of Biotechnology, where plant and animal tissue is used to make new products in a state-of-the-art laboratory using cutting-edge technology.

Eastside High School: Institute of Culinary Arts, where students can acquire skills in baking, ice carving, grillwork, kitchen management and more.

Buchholz High School: Academy of Finance, where students learn skills in financial computing, investments, financial planning, securities and accounting, and the Academy of Entrepreneurship, where students learn the principles of starting and operating a business.

Gainesville High School: Academy of Health Professions, which prepares students for certification as nursing assistants, dental aides, pharmacy techs, patient care techs or emergency medial technicians.

Newberry High School: Academy of Criminal Justice for students wishing to work in law enforcement, the courts or corrections. Students participate in Explorers and Teen Court at the Alachua County Sheriff's Office.

Professional Academies at Loften High School: Early Childhood Education prepares students for a career working with young children. Academy of Design and Technology, where students learn about digital photography, Web page design, digital video editing, and presentation development. Academy of Fire and Emergency Medical Service, where students are trained as first responders (includes earning their CPR certificate), Firefighter I, and also have the opportunity to dual-enroll at Santa Fe College in the EMT program. Academy of Automotive Technology, which prepares students for employment as automotive mechanics and other types of mechanics, and Academy of Environmental Engineering, which prepares students to produce, process and market all types of ornamental and edible plants.

At the forum, Iafrate said parents and students will have an opportunity to see displays for the various programs, receive information from school representatives and learn about the application process, including eligibility guidelines.

For the first time next school year, Iafrate said the Institute of Biotechnology will be offered as a career academy with transportation provided.

Iafrate said the program has been available as a choice for students, but transportation has not been offered. She said the Professional Academies at Loften offers five career academies, the most at any high school in the school district.

Iafrate said last year, 700 attended the career forum at Buchholz.

"This is an opportunity, so that instead of visiting each school, parents can learn about them all at one time," Iafrate said.

"Students can check out the career academies at Professional Academies (at Loften High School) and all the other career academies in the district."

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