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Hartselle expanding elective class offering

Decatur Daily - 10/26/2017

Oct. 26--HARTSELLE -- An unscheduled meeting with a retired U.S. Air Force veteran led Hartselle City Schools to add a Civil Air Patrol program to its elective offerings.

"This is going to impact all of our students," Superintendent Dee Dee Jones said Wednesday during her first state of the schools address as the district's superintendent.

Jones -- in a 20-minute presentation at the Burleson Center/Fine Arts Center -- lauded some of the district's accomplishments and issued a warning about becoming complacent because this "sets you up for failure."

Hartselle historically has posted some of the highest test scores among public schools in the state, but school leaders said there always are challenges, and having a Civil Air Patrol program will fill a void for students who may not be involved with athletics or extracurricular programs such as drama.

The program will be available as an elective next year.

"This is an untapped gem and will give students another place to learn leadership skills and be involved," Hartselle Junior High Principal Robbie Smith said.

Hartselle High Principal Jeff Hyche said the school wanted to start a JROTC program, but the federal government said it was not expanding the programs at this time because of cost. He said having Civil Air Patrol will fill that void.

"It's going to fill a niche for students who are looking for a military component," Hyche said

Civil Air Patrol serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and is chartered by Congress.

Because the program has a science, technology, engineering and math component, Jones and Hyche said it will fit with Hartselle's plan to also open engineering and manufacturing academies at the high school next year.

Hyche said 55 percent of the jobs in Alabama are in the manufacturing sector, and schools have to do a better job preparing students for these career opportunities.

"There is a high need for the mid-level students who may not be going to college, but need training for high-paying jobs," he said.

Jones said the program will serve the entire district because K-6 students will receive STEM kits, and students in grades 7-12 have the option to join the Civil Air Patrol club or take the program as an elective.

The superintendent said plans already were in place to make aerospace available to students next year, and air patrol is a bonus.

Smith said it is especially a benefit for middle school students because they are trying to find their way in life.

"This is another avenue for them to find their place in school," she said.

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(c)2017 The Decatur Daily (Decatur, Ala.)

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