SEMINOLE – With the new school year underway, change is in the air at Career Academies of Seminole.
With a new principal at the helm – Marti Giancola took on the role after Barbara Clare retired in June – CAS is set to become the county’s first technical high school. Construction will begin on the $10.5 million project in October.
“(Barbara) was an amazing lady and is an amazing lady,” Giancola said. “The next couple of years are all going to be new and transitional. She was able to provide a strong foundation for this school, our beliefs and what we value, and we’re going to carry that on without her.”
Tucked away on 86th Avenue North, CAS offers more than 400 students from Seminole High School, Largo High School and Osceola Fundamental High School a unique learning experience. Students spent part of their school day at the CAS campus in a variety of career and technical programs that include building construction technologies, gaming programming, commercial and digital art, and electrical wiring.
“It’s hands on,” Giancola said. “It’s about two weeks of book work, and then you get out there and the book work starts making sense. It may not make sense when you read it. But when you work it and then read it, it makes perfect sense. (CAS) provides kids so many more opportunities to engage in learning.”
New programs have been added in recent years. The gaming programming course was added several years ago and it easily the school’s most popular, she said. Next year, CAS will add marine mechanics to the list of offerings.
This year, a nursing program opened at the school. Students in the program will graduate as at least a certified nursing assistant (CAN), Giancola said. If they elect to attend one more summer school session after graduation, they will earn their licensed practical nurse (LPN) status. More than 200 students applied for 75 spots in the fledgling program and the school will likely have to hire an additional instructor next year.
“We keep having to turn people away,” she said.
Giancola, mostly recently the work-based learning specialist for Pinellas County Schools, is no stranger to CAS, having spent three years assisting its students in finding internships and other opportunities. So she jumped at the chance to lead the school into a new era.
“It’s an exciting time to be here,” she said. “[Staff here] really feels like it’s the best place in the world.”