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The Spotlight on Eastern
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As we are getting back into the school year, the Eastern Center is also starting up again. The Eastern Center of Arts and Technology is a vocational school that “equips students with dynamic skills, knowledge, and mindsets to succeed in a career pathway” as described on their website. It is an alternative to traditional schooling as it provides preparation for specific careers that might not be touched on in a standard curriculum.

“About one hundred students go to Eastern annually, and it’s open to eleventh and twelfth graders. Some careers that Eastern focuses on are culinary arts, cosmetology, welding, and medical related careers like ‘allied health’ just to name a few. There are around fourteen different programs at Eastern,” said Mrs. Townsend, the career and college readiness planner for Eastern students.

Taking courses at Eastern does more than prepare students for future careers. Some students even have the opportunity to be paid and earn college credit.  “There is a variety of skills that our students can learn and use, and several of our students get paid co-ops while they’re there so they get on the job training as well get dual enrollment credits through different institutions. Because of this, when your time at Eastern is finished,  you can go either directly into work or use the skills that you’ve learned for further education at a variety of colleges,” Mrs. Townsend said.

Co-ops are similar to internships but they are paid opportunities, so it is working on the job and getting your foot in the door with an employer for after graduation. Mrs. Townsend’s role in all of this is helping with the application process for students in tenth grade.

“There are several steps to this process, starting with an assembly for interested students (which is Nov. 21st this year) leading into a field trip this December (Dec. 14th this year) with the purpose of checking out three different programs at Eastern that students are interested in, which is followed by an application and career interest inventory. Finally when students are in, I help them as their counselor here in HH and communicate with their counselor at Eastern.”

Eastern has become more popular in recent years. There are waitlists for some programs. The welding program, for example, has had a waitlist for the last couple of years.

Mrs. Townsend explained that “A couple years ago we only sent kids for an afternoon session, but because of the growth we’ve experienced, we now send kids both in the morning and in the afternoon to allow the opportunity for more spots. Competition is growing year after year.”

Since popularity is increasing, Eastern must be appealing to the students who go there. Junior Carl Salvato is in Eastern’s welding program and he says, “Not only does it get you out of school for half the day, it gets you ahead in the job market and teaches you something you really enjoy. It’s just overall fun, and if you are already somewhat experienced in some of the things they have to offer, it’s a great way to get even further in it. I should also mention that different programs have different lengths. One of the classes could be a one year program but welding for me is a two year program, so you have to be prepared for it if you really want it.”

Another student who goes to Eastern for a different program is junior Andrew Rodriguez. Andrew said, “I picked Culinary Arts to pursue, since most of my family is already in some sort of culinary business but it’s also because I have an interest in it.”

Andrew explained that, “Eastern is a more hands-on experience compared to traditional school, meaning that it’s not just going to be pen and paper, but you’ll also be able to experience the actual field and work on your skills to hopefully get a job in that field one day. For culinary arts it’s about 50/50 pen and paper and hands-on, but I’d imagine it differs between different programs.”

He also said that, “Some benefits are that of course you get to skip half of the school day depending on a.m. or p.m., but also it’s a way to pursue a career that you have an interest in before you’re competing for it in the job market.”

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Matthew Salvatore, Editor in Chief
Grade: Junior Favorite school subject: AP Gov Hobby: Guitar, gym, Track and Field What you enjoy/look forward to with The Hat Chat: I look forward to editing articles and helping everyone on the Hat-Chat become better writers. What College do you want to go to?: At the moment, Notre Dame Fun fact: I want to go into ROTC

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