Charting the future
New Indiantown high school provides multiple paths to success
BY DONNA CRARY
As you drive west along Southwest Citrus Boulevard approaching Timer Powers Park in Indiantown, a massive structure rises in the middle of vast agricultural fields. The building — Indiantown Charter High School — will be the new home of the town’s first high school. It is a symbol of hope, promising educational opportunities and a brighter economic future for local residents.
It is the second public charter high school that Indian River State College operates in collaboration with the Martin County School District. The school began in August with students meeting at the Boys and Girls Club of Indiantown.
The new state-of-the-art building is scheduled to be completed in July. It offers students the flexibility of choosing from a traditional high school curriculum with a focus on career and vocational education or college-level learning. The new programs give students a head start on their careers even before they graduate.
“One of the primary goals of our high school is to offer and prepare our students to be college and career-ready and empower them with skills that they need to join the community workforce,” principal Lisa Davenport explains.
“We also balance that with college readiness because we very much want students to have additional opportunities like Clark Advanced Learning Center has done for 19 years — to have the opportunity to do dual enrollment and come out with their associate degree,” adds Debra Kohuth, dean of charter schools at IRSC.
Students can earn an industry certification in a variety of fields including health care, construction, computer technology, automotive and marine engine repair, and manufacturing. The workforce programs allow them to earn a diploma while getting hands-on job training, so they have the necessary skills to enter their careers.
Timothy Moore, IRSC president, points out the advantages of learning a trade in today’s economy.
“Why the trades? A young person with a level 3 automotive mechanics degree or certificate can make $100,000 a year,” he says. “HVAC, same thing. Welding, you’re in the multiple tens of dollars per hour fee structure. These are not low-paying jobs — to which a lot of America has assigned a stigma. These are jobs that are high tech and well paying.”
Additionally, students who want to work in health care can choose to become certified as an electrocardiograph technician, medical administrative assistant, certified nursing assistant, phlebotomy technician or emergency medical responder. These jobs are sought after in hospitals, surgery centers and blood banks.
With all of the large-scale housing developments coming to Indiantown, students can also earn a timely certification in the building trades.
“Our students will be able to learn HVAC, basic carpentry — it will have an electrical component in there — and we’re looking at welding which certainly applies to large-scale construction overall,” Davenport says. “When your AC goes out in July, you don’t care how much it’s going to cost. Somebody needs to answer that phone and get it fixed.”
Students who want to learn about engine repair, including marine engines, can get firsthand experience at the school.
“The property across from our campus on Citrus has a wide water canal with deep water access at the Indiantown Marine Center,” Davenport says. “By leveraging college partnerships, Indiantown High School will provide real-world opportunities for students to service marine engines and test them.”
SMALL IS BETTER
School officials say there are added benefits for students who attend there compared with attending a larger traditional high school. Since it’s affiliated with IRSC, students will have access to the college’s advisers and instructors, as well as getting individualized attention in a smaller learning environment.
The 60,000-square-foot, career-driven high school is situated on 25 acres. It was inspired by an anonymous philanthropist who gave $10 million to IRSC to provide workforce training and education for Indiantown and its surrounding community. The school has also been made possible through additional donations including $5.3 million from the state, $3 million from the Martin County School District plus leasing of the property, and $15 million from the IRSC Foundation.
As the new school gets closer to completion, school officials are excited about providing comprehensive career training and a college education — all conveniently located in their backyard. They understand that training local talent with the needed education paves the way for jobs that can lead to higher socioeconomic opportunities, which then benefits the entire community.
“It’s really about changing the trajectory of lives,” Kohuth says. “So we know for this community — when Indiantown High School can really impact the student, it then impacts the family, which then impacts the community. So changing that trajectory is really a part of what the college and the high school stand for.”
WANT TO ENROLL?
Indiantown Charter High School is accepting applications for incoming ninth- and 10th-graders who plan to attend beginning in August. Eventually, the school will include grades nine through 12 with an enrollment capped at 400. Students interested in applying should visit https://irsc.edu/about/indiantown-high-school.html for more information.
March 3, 2023