When Curtney Lewis graduates this May, she’ll mark two notches in her belt.
On top of her diploma from Burke County High School (BCHS), she’ll receive certification as a criminal justice specialist from Augusta Technical College (ATC).
She’s earning both at the same time by leaving school for a few hours each day to attend classes at ATC.
“I was just ready to get a head start,” Lewis said.
She’s not alone in her desire to get ahead.
Several students from BCHS will finish up training programs around the same time they graduate from high school.
Fellow BCHS senior Justin Zahner has also been taking classes in the criminal justice program at ATC and called it a good opportunity.
He already knew he wanted a career in law enforcement, so the chance to start his training early was appealing.
“I’ve always been interested in (criminal justice),” he said. “I thought it was a good idea to get started because I had extra time in my schedule.”
He had already taken the classes he needed for graduation, so instead of electives, he went to ATC for a few hours each day.
Other BCHS students are enrolled in ATC’s business, welding, manufacturing maintenance and automotive programs. Another senior is getting her core classes for an associates degree in radiology.
BCHS career and technical education director Dr. Leslie Clark said the program offers students a chance to make the most of their time, and she has been pleased with the number of students who have taken advantage of the opportunity.
“I’m just thrilled with how well the kids have performed and the number participating,” she said. “And I’m hearing good things from their instructors at Augusta Tech.”
She added that most of the students pick up more than a certificate or a diploma. She said they tend to become more mature and have a better grasp on their futures.
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