SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) -- As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many people are exploring vocational training.
The James Reese Career and Technical Center opened in 2019 in Fort Bend County. The center serves students from all 11 Fort Bend ISD high schools by offering students classes in subjects like Agriculture and Natural Resources, Architecture and Construction, Arts and Audio/Video Technologies and Communications, Culinary Arts, Human Services, Education and Training, Information Technology, Law and Public Safety, Manufacturing, and Transportation and Logistics.
Some students are able to graduate with a licenses to start work immediately.
"It prepares you more for the future. After this, you don't have to go to college because you already have a license, and you're ready to go work right away," explained 17-year-old Denise Grimaldo. "You can even go and start a business because you have a license."
"Cosmetology has taught me to be more diligent and more responsible," said 18-year-old Klixta Munez. "Knowing how to connect with people that are from all walks of life and just getting very good communication skills."
Students are still required to take core classes.
"Data indicates that students that are enrolled in two or more career and technical classes actually do better at their core classes and the reason is that in CTE, they're learning to apply some of that knowledge," said Director of Career and Technical Education Meredith Watassek. "Career and technical education is for every student. It's not for students who are not choosing to go to college or who are choosing to go. It's an opportunity to engage in choice. We really want them to try something now before mom and dad pay for a college education and they decide that's not what they want to do."
Elementary and middle school students in Fort Bend ISD visit the center during field trips and other school events.
"The way that the pandemic has changed us is really challenging us to say, 'What does education look like?' and predict and make assumptions about what the future might hold," Watassek said.
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Students explore alternative careers at Fort Bend ISD's new center