JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Incoming Jefferson City ninth graders will be the first class of students under a new educational philosophy within the district next year.
Starting this fall, students at Simonsen Ninth Grade Center will be part of one of seven career-focused "academies."
The academies are Fine Arts & Communications, Human Services, Health Services, Agriculture Foods & Natural Resources, Industrial Engineering & Technology, Business Management & Technology, and Global Studies.
"They're just choosing a pathway, choosing an interest area," said Simonsen principal Tammy Ridgeway. "Students kind of do it right now."
On Wednesday, the district held an event to thank its local business partners. Those businesses and government organizations have been helping shape the curriculum for specific academies and will provide mentoring for students.
Two students spoke about their plans for after high school and how they hoped the academies would better prepare them.
Jordan Dearman said she wanted to be a veterinarian and would be in the Agriculture Foods & Natural Resources academy later this year.
"I've always liked animals," Dearman said. "So I'm excited to get into the academy and get to work."
Catherine Blotevoegel had an inside track on the shaping of the academies because her mother is a business partner.
Blotevoegel said she wanted to be a relief worker, and was in the Global Studies academy next school year.
"I know there's going to be a lot of trial and error with this especially in the first year or two," she told ABC 17 News. "But I'm excited to see how it's going to work out."
According to district leaders, all incoming ninth grade students got their first choice on academy for next year.
Any student who wishes to switch an academy may do so and all academies still meet core curriculum requirements. Plus, the district said students could still take part in electives in other academies.
"We're just trying to funnel them into an area where they have interest so they will want to stay in school and be successful in school," Ridgeway said.
The academies will be rolled out with each following freshman class. No physical changes were expected to either the Simonsen Ninth Grade Center or Jefferson City High School to accommodate the academies.