MOORHEAD — This is not your parents' high school shop class. The new Moorhead High School Career Academy is a vast tech and job training dream for the 1,200 students about to call this their favorite homeroom.
While finishing touches are still going on at the academy, students are already going full speed. Twenty welding bays are already full. The auto lab has with four lifts, and small engine repair classes are already full. The teachers say the interest is off the charts.
"(It's) amazing. I love pulling up here every morning and seeing that Moorhead High School Career Academy sign in front of the building, knowing this is the future of education," said welding instructor Jeff Schneider. "People used to think the trades were just a vocation, a second seat to getting a four year degree, but now our plumbers, carpenters, electricians and welders are making as much as our engineers are."
Apart from the traditional trades, there are also high-tech classes as well. Aerospace, graphic design and marketing, and soon esports.
"It tells me there is a push for trades in industry, which we have needed for a long time," said aviation and small engine repair instructor John Clancy. "We have a work shortage in nearly every industry you can find and the fact we have this much interest is really heartening."
What happens in these classrooms will also fill a critical need at a time when so many restaurants are looking for help, Moorhead students are learning to be chefs in a state-of-the-art kitchen.
It's all part of a changing landscape for how high schools educate our local students. The approach is to meet these students where they are at with what they want to do.
"A lot more hands-on stuff, learn about engines and welding. The economy and stuff like that," said student Will Borud.
The students say the traditional classrooms with lecture and homework may work for some, but not for all.
"It is very practical. You will use a lot of classes you take here in life," said student CJ Moorhe. "Life is not just math, science, English. A lot of it is welding, engines, a lot of automotive, arts, all of the above."
The career academy plans even more programs such as medical labs with simulators, helping the new high school take shape in Moorhead.