Career center keeps students coming

CCC keeps its numbers strong second semester


Cooper Avery

Senior Jaden Johnson checks a Free State student’s blood pressure in the EMS First Responder course offered at the College and Career Center.

By Gary Schmidt

For 61 students at LHS, going to class has an entirely different meaning. When these few juniors and seniors head to class, a five minute passing period turns into a 10 minute drive to the new Lawrence College and Career Center (CCC).

The CCC, which fully opened and began offering courses in the fall semester of 2015, is providing some alternative ways for students to spend their school day. Often, this involves doing things that could not be offered in a typical classroom setting.

An astounding 33,000 square feet, the CCC provides students a larger and more dynamic setting to better accommodate the many different disciplines the students pursue while there.

From learning how to solve the impending world hunger crisis to becoming a certified nurse aide (CNA), the CCC is opening up new paths to students not previously offered in a traditional school setting.

Through courses offered in conjunction with area colleges, the district is giving students the opportunity to get a head start on their future.

Neosho Community College, Johnson County Community College and Flint Hills Technical College are offering courses that can count for college credit and in some circumstances allow students to take “hybrid” courses.

These hybrid courses, while still being taught by USD 497 faculty, give students the opportunity to earn a high school credit and a college credit, all in the same semester by taking the high school course two or three days a week and the college course the other days of the week.

A typical day for a student who takes a class at the CCC does not vary all too much from a student who does not take any classes at the CCC. In fact, the only change that students see in their schedules is an omission of either their first three hours, or last three hours for a student who chooses to take an afternoon class, and the addition of a two hour block class, sandwiched between two thirty minute traveling periods.

Something different about the CCC is that it offers students different ways to do the same things. A single course has the potential to be face-to-face, typical in most classroom settings; online-based, such as many blended classes; or a hybrid course, having elements of both a high school course and a college level class. Additionally, the CCC’s proximity to the Dwayne Peaslee Technical Education Center, provides supplementary space and resources to the students.

And looking toward the future, the partnership between the CCC and the Peaslee Center will continue to be a big factor. Charlie Lauts, an engineering teacher at both LHS and the CCC, said.

“The Peaslee Center is important because it gives us space for many other classes,” Lauts said.

The Peaslee Center houses the majority of the CCC’s engineering and manufacturing classes, but the professionals who work there also assist with many different marketing courses.

Lauts said that it will take time, but as enrollment grows so will the reputation of the center. Working toward the maximum capacity for students at the center is one of the long-term goals of the center.

Another objective of the CCC is to pair each student enrolled with a mentor, someone who will be able to help the student work through their daily challenges and monitor their growth will taking class at the center.

The CCC currently has around 150 mentors, but aims to have 450 readily available. Although the center can have 300 students enrolled, the district would like to have more than enough mentors, so whenever a student needs someone that is an expert in another area, someone will be available.

Although the center is only in its first year, the growth it has displayed bodes well for the future.

“The CCC is long overdue,” Lauts said. “[Lawrence] has needed this forever.”