PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Teaching kids technical skills at an early age is what a new Pasco County high school is aiming to do. The school could help fill the needs of industries struggling to get qualified employees.
Ridgewood High School is closing and being refurbished into Wendell Krinn Technical School. The new school will provide the core curriculum the students need to graduate. They will also go across the street to Marchman Technical College for hands-on training in a variety of professions.
Austin Runyan is learning the tricks of the A/C trade, a profession the 16-year-old has been interested in since he was a kid.
"I’ve always asked questions about how it works and why it works and now I get to come here and actually work on this stuff," Runyan said.
Runyan is a little jealous middle school kids about to head into high school will get the experience he has even sooner.
Nikos Dimopoulos is hoping to get his start in culinary arts.
"I saw the kitchen and it had a lot of stuff in it and it actually looked like a real kitchen in a restaurant that you find," Dimopoulos said.
"It gives them an opportunity to start excelling," said Rob Aguis, the Director of Marchman Technical College.
Aguis says the partnership with Pasco County Schools is going to save kids time and money. Hands-on training will be part of their high school experience at no cost to them. It is also getting them into the workforce faster.
"What you were seeing over there, I’m working on freezing which is soldering all of the copper back together so the refrigerant can move through the lines," said Runyan, who is already teaching older students what he is learning.
"He engaged, he didn’t have to look anything up it just kind of came as a way of him working through this solutions and the problems and the diagnosis," said Aguis, saying that's proof the process is working.
There are basic some requirements for students wanting to attend Wendell Krinn Technical School.
Pasco County students in grades 9 to 12 need to apply for the school through the choice program. The application window is open through February 8. All students are being considered, but you will get priority if you have a minimum 2.5 GPA and received a 3.0 on the Florida Standard Assessments.
For more information on the application process and the school, click here.