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Center Tech Center West Principal Allyson Killough (right), and John Woods spoke to the recent Career Technology Breakfast  at the Horn Lake campus. Killough told a recent Hernando Rotary Club meeting she expects enrollment at the campus to grow.  

The Career Technology Center West student population at the CTC West facility in Horn Lake will grow by at least 90 to 100 additional students next year and Principal Allyson Killough said that's an indication that the market is strong for what used to be known as vocational students — an old term that has been given a new updated name and an expanded focus.

In short, the term "career tech" is not your grandfather's vo-tech, or what commonly used to be called "shop class."

In fact, said Killough, modern career technology centers are light years ahead of their precedessors.

"Career Tech is the new terminology for Vo-Tech," Killough said. "It takes away that stigma. For instance, our Health Sciences students who go on to study nursing come to us with a 4.0 grade-point average."

Killough, who spoke to the Rotary Club of Hernando on Wednesday, said the CTC West facility still has traditional trade students among its student population but the skills they learn include use of laser-guided tools and updated technology of all sorts, especially in the automotive classroom setting.

"Automotive careers are no longer about changing oil," Killough said.

The same could could be said for any one of the specialized areas which are taught at the CTC West facility on Kuykendall Drive, named for the visionary superintendent who was able to obtain funding for both the CTC West and CTC East facility in Olive Branch, according to Killough.

Those areas include Health Sciences, Engineering, Digital Media Technology, Information Technology, Culinary, Automotive, Construction Technology and Welding.

"Our mission is to prepare students for college and careers," Killough said. "We have some students who are college bound and some who go directly into the workforce."

The Career Technology Center West campus serves students from Lake Cormorant High School, Horn Lake High School, Southaven, DeSoto Central and Hernando.

Killough said the CTC West campus has 360 students and is looking at an enrollment of 450 students next year.

The recent Career Tech Breakfast, sponsored in part by the DeSoto Times-Tribune, John Woods with First Choice Catering and DeSoto County Schools, was able to bring together titans of industry and business and educational leaders in a partnership that has already paid major dividends.

Killough said so far, more than $6,000 in donations that will be designated for various programs, such as the construction and culinary arts programs, have been forthcoming and more are anticipated.

Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at rlong@desototimestribune.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.

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