October 19, 2021

Creating opportunities

McGraw High School offers focus on computers

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

McGraw High School senior George Ross signs up for Tompkins Cortland Community College online career and technical education courses Tuesday at his high school.

Ninth graders in McGraw High School will have an opportunity this year, their first, to embark on a path to graduate on a career pathway with training in the field of computers.

McGraw High School is offering a Career and Technical Education program in computer applications this year, the first of its planned course offerings as it forays into offering more Career and Technical Education endorsements, or an assurance from the school that these students have mastered a skill, said Karen Genzel, director of instruction for the district.

Genzel said that by offering its own career pathways, the district avoids having to send students to Onondaga- Cortland-Madison Board of Cooperative Educational Services for those opportunities. Students who complete the requirements will graduate with a seal of technical endorsement on their diploma in the field.

The district rolled out its computer applications program to start this fall and during the school year it will work to develop a program in agriculture technology.

The computer applications program opens doors for students, said Superintendent Melinda McCool.

“We hope that these courses not only offer our students the added credential, but also bring excitement to our classrooms with real world problem-solving and experiences,” she said.

A student on the Career and Technical Education pathway would take electives that fulfill the degree, for example mathematics, finance and computer programming credits.

They can also get college credit by passing precision exams in these courses, she said. So even students who do not graduate with enough credits for the Career and Technical Education endorsement can note on their college applications their score on the precision exam.

To get the Career and Technical Education endorsement, the student must pass three precision exams — state-approved exams administered at the end of the course — in mathematics, personal finance and computer programming. There are also demonstration and project components of the curriculum, Genzel said.

The school sought a computer applications program because BOCES does not offer one.

“When you look at computer applications, right now that’s required in any job, any career you look at,” she said. The goal is that the school is churning out graduates who are ready to enter the work force or further their education.

“Kids will be more career and college ready when they leave us, so they have skills when they leave,” Genzel said.