The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

MCPS career programs ignite new passions

Photo courtesy of MCPS
The Fire Science and Rescue Academy students are fully dressed in proper firefighting gear for a uniform check.

By now, WCHS students have likely grown tired of  the announcement: “Attention to all Thomas Edison and Fire Academy participants, please report to the bus loop.” However, what exactly are these programs that allow students to only spend half their day at school? 

MCPS offers a wide range of career readiness programs for high school students, with the aforementioned Thomas Edison and Fire Science and Rescue programs being the most popular. These programs are extensions of what a regular MCPS high school provides by including activities where students can actively do and learn more about their field of interest. 

“The Fire Science and Rescue seemed like a really great opportunity,” WCHS junior Grace Chia said. “I’m interested in emergency medicine, so this will help me get started with that. It also just gives you valuable life skills that are good to have.”

As a two-year program held at the MCPS Safety Training Academy, the staff in the academy is full of certified first responders who teach students the basics of fire prevention and control and emergency medical technology. From early on in the academy, students are exposed to the gear and skills the fire rescue industry utilizes. 

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“There is not much sitting in a classroom,” Chia said. “Instead, we do a lot of physical work out of the classroom with equipment like our turn-out gear/SCBA, hoses and ladders.”

With early exposure to what this type of career pathway entails, the students gain a head start on what is ahead of them and can even begin their careers straight out of high school.

“By completing this program, you can earn a license in firefighting or a license as an EMT, which allows you to get hired straight away,” Chia said. “It also gives you good connections with people already working in the first responder field.”

In addition to immediate career prospects, the possible networking connections are just as important. When a student establishes a good relationship with their instructor, they gain a mentor for life that can help them land successful job positions and accomplish their biggest goals. 

Similarly to how a student in the Fire Science and Rescue Academy can get licensed, Thomas Edison programs also have certain job certifications embedded into their program. 

“Thomas Edison’s Health Care Professions Academy lets us take a CCMA and CNA, which will allow us to be certified assistant nurses,” WCHS junior Marisa Pienvitayasakul said. “They also provide us internship opportunities at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Bethesda Health and Rehabilitation Center, which is what I am most looking forward to.”

These internship opportunities let students experience the flow of the environment they would work in if they chose that career path. This exposure can either increase a student’s passion for their field or make them rethink their desired career path, both of which are important decisions to be able to make. Even if they do not end up going down the same career path as their program, Thomas Edison students still believe the program to be beneficial in many other ways 

“I think that this program prepares students not only for the healthcare pathway but also other pathways,” Pienvitayasakul said. “They teach us about being professional and responsible.”

Besides knowledge, Thomas Edison programs also highlight the importance of communication, time management and responsibility in a professional setting. They recognize that these skills should not be solely used but used in cooperation with others. Therefore, they aim to create a welcoming space where students can foster good connections with one another.

“I like how we are with the same people for all three class periods and the two years,” Pienvitayasakul said. “We can build good relationships and share our passions easily because of how much time we spend together.”

Reflecting on the MCPS career readiness programs, students overall believe them to be greatly beneficial, especially in helping students explore their passion outside of a traditional classroom setting. As career industries are constantly changing, MCPS strives to continue to improve and create new programs to bring forth the best in their students in each generation. 

“People should not overlook these programs,” Pienvitayasakul said. “It is nice to spend time doing what you are interested in, and it can open many unexpected doors that lead us to who we are meant to be.”

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About the Contributor
Catherine Chan
Catherine Chan, Assistant Online Editor
Catherine Chan is currently a junior at WCHS and the Assistant Online Editor for the 2023-2024 school year. She is excited to work with new people this year and continue her passion for writing. Outside of school, she is a competitive swimmer and lyrical dancer.

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