by Avery Prudenti ’22
Hundreds of articles in recent years have reported on the decline of vocational education for U.S. high school students, and Sherwood reflects just how few students are choosing to get a headstart on training for careers that require technical training. Of the approximately 2,000 students here at Sherwood, only 15 to 20 are enrolled in the programs at Edison High School.
“People just aren’t paying enough attention [to Edison as an option],” said Elizabeth Giffen, who is the head of the Counseling Department and a coordinator for Sherwood students who go to Edison. “There are not a lot of criteria to get in [to Edison], but your attendance has to be decent to go to Edison and you need to be passing your classes.”
Edison has 18 programs that are open to all MCPS students. They learn from industry-trained teachers, and they can earn college credit, industry certification, and even begin apprenticeships. Many of the pathways provide opportunities to obtain professional certification that students can use to get a job. There are four clusters of pathways: Automotive, Construction, Human and Consumer Services, and the Career Readiness Education Academy (CREA). The programs are free and MCPS provides buses to all students to and from their home school.
Junior Alex Adcock is enrolled in the law enforcement focus in Edison. He likes the idea of helping people, and wants to become a police officer. “[At Edison we] usually take notes during class, do team building activities, and learn about self defense.” Students like Adcock go to class in Sherwood for three periods, but then at 11:30 they get provided transportation to Edison, where they stay there until 1:50 when a bus returns them to Sherwood. These students are getting a more specific, hands-on education in a shorter time period than students enrolled in regular class schedules.
The overall purpose of Edison is to help prepare students for a career right out of high school. The program provides students with the knowledge and confidence they need to excel in the career of their choice. “Learning leadership in my program is a big part of law enforcement and learning to get out of your comfort zone and be confident is also a great tool you’ll need in this career,” explained Adcock.
Although 11 of the Edison programs are already filled to capacity for next school year, there is still time to enroll in one of the seven programs left, such as the plumbing program or carpentry program. Interested students must complete enrollment forms and submit them to Edison for review. If the number of eligible students is too high, some might be put on a wait list, and it is better to sign up sooner rather than later.