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Bunker Hill, IN - The 2019-20 school year has come with new opportunities for Maconaquah High School students.

Over the summer, the school began renovations for a new welding and construction shop. The shop houses courses for students, sophomore through senior, interested in a welding or construction program. In previous years, students interested in Career and Technical Education programs would have to travel to the Kokomo Career Center in order to participate. Eliminating the commute is only one of the ways Maconaquah has expanded interest and enrollment in both welding and construction courses.

“The motivation behind reimplementing these programs is that for too many years they have been neglected. Our focus has been solely on improving our test scores. Test scores are important, but there is much more to the educational program,” says Dr. James Callane, Maconaquah School Corporation Superintendent.

In 2016, the Corporation received bond money to implement renovations on their buildings. Renovations were completed in 2018, but there was a surplus left over. This money was brought to the school board, where they had to decide what other renovations the money would be put towards. It just happened that administrators had been toying around with the idea of bringing back courses such as the welding program. It became apparent to School Board President Robert Daine and Superintendent Dr. Callane that this is what the leftover money would go towards.

“When I was approached by the administrators about bringing back welding I was all in. It made perfect sense to keep our students on campus and offer an in house program and I believe the proof will be in the numbers,” said Daine.

So far, Daine is correct. According to Maconaquah High School Principal Chad Carlson, in previous years, the school typically had 12-15 students enrolled in some type of welding course at the Kokomo Area Career Center. After the implementation of the on-campus courses, the school currently has 62 students enrolled.

Maconaquah Middle School Principal Justin Myers was very involved in helping implement the programs. Myers was approached by Dr. Callane because of his background in Welding 1Mechanical Engineering Technology, Engineering Technology Education, and having taught various disciplines in Automotive, Manufacturing, Construction, PLTW Aerospace Engineering, and PLTW Civil Engineering. He is just as excited to see enrollment numbers rising. “At Maconaquah, our new focus in Welding Technology and Construction Trades will put our students on the first step to the ladder of success. In addition to the new programs, we have many successful, well-established programs in grades 6-12 including Agriculture, Manufacturing, PLTW, and Business. These programs will continue to open doors to countless career opportunities and life-long financial stability for our students. In the near future, we intend to explore and ultimately expand learning opportunities in CTE for our Brave young women and young men,” says Myers.

There have been many hands at work in this transition, but Maconaquah cannot go without mentioning its partnership with Ivy Tech Community College. Ivy Tech has partnered with Maconaquah to offer dual enrollment credits after the completion of the course. Maconaquah High School Principal Chad Carlson says the team met with representatives from Ivy Tech multiple times during the year and worked out an agreement to not only allow the dual credit courses but to use an Ivy Tech instructor on their campus. He says that Maconaquah couldn’t be happier with how the partnership has been going. “Things have started out great this year and we look forward to a continued partnership with Ivy Tech.”

Ethan Heicher, Ivy Tech’s Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, has worked closely with Maconaquah to ensure a smooth transition.

“The Maconaquah welding program represents a first of its kind initiative in our service area,” says Heicher. “Additionally, college is an essential prerequisite to many careers. Students who complete dual credit or dual enrollment coursework save hundreds and often thousands of dollars in future tuition dollars. As a K-14 educational pathway, the Maconaquah welding program assures that students see a seamless path from where they currently are to the life in our community and the career they envision for themselves.”

In addition to Heicher, Joshua Speer, Dean at Ivy Tech School of Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering, and Applied Sciences has also played a big role in the transition. Speer said he is excited about the opportunities made possible through a partnership with Maconaquah School Corporation.

“Today we see students graduating with multiple college credits. Welding is an example. Over 2 years, 24 credits is possible. ITEP (Integrated Technology Education Program) has shown us that if we work with the schools though College and Career Connections Coaches and our faculty to develop pathways, students can be successful and focus on a career path much earlier. Employers are happy, students are happy, students graduate early, and we are fostering a region with skills that meet our workforce demand,” says Speer.

For the construction courses, Maconaquah has partnered with the IKORCC (Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters) through their Building Trades Program. Upon completion of this program, students can apply into Carpenter/Millwright Apprenticeship Training. Applicants accepted into the training program will receive a scholarship worth approximately $15,000. Each graduate will receive an Associates Degree in Applied Science from Ivy Tech by taking four additional classes through that college. Upon completion of the four years of apprenticeship training, the apprentice is advanced to journeyman carpenter, millwright, or residential carpenter status.

When asked what he hopes to see come out of these programs, Dr. Callane responded “I want to see us have the best welding and construction program in the state. We want students to graduate from these programs and have all the certifications necessary to go to work anywhere in the world. I also hope we grow these programs so that every one of our students has an opportunity to experience the welding or construction program in their high school career. I am also excited about possible internships we might develop with our local businesses so our students get the opportunity to apply their skills.”

Maconaquah High School and Ivy Tech Community College will be teaming up to host an open house to introduce the new CTE programs to the public. The open house will be held on September 26, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The corporation hopes members of the community will come and learn more about the exciting changes going on at the school, and support the new opportunities happening for Maconaquah students.