Touring SPARTAN Country

By Elsa Maxey

Stafford High School’s College and Career Center fully operational

Left, Stafford High School senior Moses Castillas, left, and welding instructor Jesus Puentes show off the Spartan desk trophy designed by a student, which is on sale in limited quantities to support the work of the welding program of the school district’s College and Technology Center. (Submitted photo)

Left, Stafford High School senior Moses Castillas, left, and welding instructor Jesus Puentes show off the Spartan desk trophy designed by a student, which is on sale in limited quantities to support the work of the welding program of the school district’s College and Technology Center. (Submitted photo)

With the spring school term about to wrap up this month, the students at Stafford High School, especially the ones graduating, probably need to take a moment and reflect at what it is they will have left behind.

The passage of a school district’s bond referendum in 2011 authorized construction of the high school’s College and Career Center that has 12 programs, some with certification opportunities that will have no doubt propelled graduating seniors into future careers. A tour of the impressive campus by the district’s College and Technical Education Director Debbie Nordt and Communications Coordinator Michael Sudhaulter helped with a glimpse of the instructional programs in engineering; information technology; health sciences; a law center with a mock court, marketing, business administration and culinary arts among the others giving students hands-on lessons in a work field.

Welding instructor Jesus Puentes said the program he manages is partnered with Houston Community College (HCC), and students end up with dual credit. As an aside, it should be noted that Neeta Sane from Missouri City, serves on the HCC board as an officer among the nine members from the Houston area. HCC donated the state of the art equipment that is used to teach students in the program, allowing it to be fully functional.

Puentes said the welding module is undergoing its first year of operation. During this inaugural year, a Spartan (the school mascot) desk trophy currently on sale was created. It was designed by one of its students, Alexa Rodriguez. Funds from the sale of the limited edition trophy are intended to benefit program operations, which has six welding booths and two cutting areas.

Complimenting the program is automotive instruction, which teaches students the mechanics of essential engine parts, transmission overhauls and much more. Vehicles from the outside may also be serviced on request, we’re told. Funds generated from the instructional work effort will also be used to benefit the program.

Nordt said the college and career center essentially “is a place where students have an opportunity to experience a work related internship, earn college credit or certification” while they are attending school and completing graduation requirements. The school opened a Smart Financial Credit Union on campus earlier this year. It’s also open to the public, comes complete with a drive through, and for the hands-on experience, it’s staffed by a paid student intern.

In addition to the tour, the Star was also treated to a look-see into the student-superintendent liaison function. The Superintendent Student Advisory Council, led by President Cristian Ortiz, has been wrapping up its work with the school district’s superintendent. SMSD Superintendent Dr. Robert Bostic told students that the school district’s “legacy cannot be left to chance,” as he acknowledged the advisory council’s role in establishing an ATM on campus in the cafeteria earlier this year, a student online Spartan store, being the first high school in Fort Bend to have a credit union on campus, and other significant accomplishments.

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