MONTGOMERY CO., AL (WSFA) - Students no longer need to sacrifice the high school experience to attend a trade school.
The vocational school landscape is changing in Montgomery and parents and students are bracing for the change.
As of this fall, The Montgomery Technical Education Center or MTECH, will be MPACT, the school is adding new majors and pooling together resources in hopes of reaching more students.
Under this new system students will spend half the day at their home high school where they'll be able to participate in extracurricular's like band or sports. The rest of the day they'll be at MPACT where they will be able to concentrate on a trade that will jump start entry into the workforce.
Anissa Ratulowski's son Joseph doesn't like book work, he's more hands on.
"My son has been wanting to look into construction, electrical, the welding," said Ratulowski
MTECH's transition to MPACT is impacting the teen.
"I've wanted to go to MTECH before but I didn't want to leave my friends behind so I was thinking about staying at Park Crossing but since this new change has come I'm actually looking forward to it," said Joseph.
MPS students accepted into MPACT will now get the best of both worlds, which is a main concern for parents.
"Making sure that he can take his core classes and his extra-curricular classes in conjunction with doing this because we don't want him to miss out on the high school experience," said concerned parent Renee Miller. Miller said her son had been bugging her to attend MTECH but they didn't want him to miss out on what a zone high school has to offer. She said this new transition seems like a great alternative.
The MPACT high school experience now includes career tech education with an integrated math course and seven majors to choose from. New majors added include information technology, fire and public safety, medical science and pre-engineering.
"We have a huge skills gap not only in the nation but Alabama, especially in the River Region, the seven majors that we have available at MPACT are based on business and industry surveys and where those skills gaps exist," said Marsha Baugh, MPACT President.
Edward Zeigler hopes to fill that gap, and hopes this new program will help him become a firefighter
"Biggest change will probably be what's available to us because there's not much available to us at Lanier because it's only a small room so once we get somewhere that's really designed for it, it will be a much better learning experience," said Zeigler.
The program is aimed to give students a high school diploma with a job built in.
"Makes me feel really secure and I should be ready for my future career," said Zeigler.
Some parents reached out to WSFA 12 News voicing their concern over the new program. They say their students already attend MTECH full-time because they don't want to go to a regular highschool, which is why they're attending MTECH to begin with. They went on to say the system is pushing their children back into the environment they worked so hard to get out of.