School board OKs new academy at AHS

Published 3:46 pm Monday, December 17, 2018

Albemarle High School will become host of three new curriculums as part of a fire and public safety academy.

The Stanly County Board of Education approved the addition of Public Safety I, Firefighter Technology I and Firefighter Technology II at a special-called meeting Wednesday night. All local high schoolers, beginning at the 9th grade level, can enroll in the classes with Stanly County Schools ensuring student transportation to the campus.

SCS is partnering with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, N.C. Department of Public Instruction, Albemarle Fire Department and the county’s volunteer fire departments to provide the fire and public safety academy at AHS. Once a student has successfully completed the courses, he or she will become eligible to serve as a volunteer firefighter.

“We are preparing our students to become firefighters with volunteer fire departments before graduating high school,” said Georgia Harvey, director of the system’s Career and Technical Education.

Public Safety I will become available during the second semester of this school year with the others starting in the next school year.

Public Safety I will provide students with basic career information in public safety including corrections, emergency and fire management, security and protection, law enforcement and legal services. Resources from the community will be used in the instruction of the courses.

Firefighter Technology I covers part of the state’s firefighter certification modules required for all firefighters in North Carolina. Modules include: orientation and safety health and wellness; fire behavior; personal protective equipment; fire hose, streams, appliances and portable extinguishers; foam fire streams; and emergency medical.

Firefighter Technology II covers additional certification modules required of state firefighters including: building construction; ropes; alarms and communications; forcible entry; ladders; ventilation; and loss control.

In conjunction with Superintendent Jeff James, Brian Taylor, chief state fire marshal and assistant insurance commissioner, spearheaded efforts to resume the firefighter program previously connected to Stanly Community College. Taylor said other counties in the state are realizing success with the programs, which helps with firefighter recruitment as well as emergency medical services and law enforcement.

“This is a key component with the recruitment process,” Taylor said. “I wanted to make sure it was being done in my home county. It’s a tool to give young men and women who are not interested in going to college, but looking for vocational training.”

Along with restoring the program, Taylor said the added curriculums will go a long way toward rebuilding AHS.

“I think it’s a win/win to be at Albemarle,” he said. “We hope this is the start of something big.”

Shawn Oke, chief of Albemarle Fire Department, agreed the program could be instrumental toward recruitment.

“I think the program will be a great addition to our schools and community,” Oke said.  “The program will not only assist our department in having the ability to consider local applicants, it will also increase the number of certified firefighters in the county to assist our volunteer departments.”

Pending school board approval at next month’s meeting, Ann Watson McClendon will fill in for Kim Page as principal at West Stanly High School. Page is currently on family leave.

Plans call for Harvey to serve as the district’s newest chief financial officer.