Heavy construction equipment will soon be seen at the Laurel Oaks Career Campus near Airborne Road. But it won’t be for new buildings — the equipment is for high school students involved in the new Heavy Equipment Operations and Engineering program, starting this fall.
The program teaches students to operate earthmoving equipment, conduct land surveys and read site blueprints, identify and measure soil qualities, and do site preparation. When they graduate from high school, these students will be qualified to use heavy machinery on construction and road sites.
“Heavy Equipment Operations and Engineering has been a popular career major at the Live Oaks Career Campus for a number of years, and there are good jobs waiting for qualified operators in our area — so it makes sense to begin the program here in Wilmington,” said Laurel Oaks Dean Mike Thomas.
Another innovative career program starting at Laurel Oaks in the fall is College Agriculture. Designed for high school seniors preparing for an agriculture career, College Agriculture is offered in conjunction with Southern State Community College. Classes will be taught by Southern State instructors, and students will earn dual high school and college credit.
But preparing students for life after high school is more than career knowledge and college readiness. “Whether our students begin working right away or go to college first, they need to have professional skills and the maturity to be successful,” said Thomas. With that in mind, Laurel Oaks is focused on teaching those skills.
To help students learn professional skills—and to help demonstrate to employers that Laurel Oaks students have these skills — school administrators have developed a Professional Skills Score.
Students are rated each quarter on such standards as working collaboratively, accuracy and meeting deadlines as well as personal characteristics like attendance, timeliness, and behavior. A printed report is available for students to include with resumes or to take to job interviews.
Clean for My Career, another new initiative for 2016-2017, encourages students to be prepared for drug-free workplaces.
“Employers tell us that they sometimes have trouble finding good candidates who can also pass a drug test,” said Thomas. “So, we help students learn the importance of being ready to work.”
Through Clean for My Career, students volunteer to be randomly drug-tested throughout the year. At the end of the year, they receive a certification that shows employers their commitment to being drug-free. To date, every one of the 77 initial volunteers are on track to earn that certification.