A first–of–its–kind program in Nebraska is wrapping up its first semester.
Teachers and students involved in Grand Island Public School's Career Pathways Institute say it's living up to the hype it generated before opening.
About 150 students attend the Adams Street campus alone. The cost of that building was $7.7 million.
It houses training in construction, engineering, manufacturing, transportation and information technology.
The new facility – as well as new curriculum allows instructor Brett Forsman to cover more subjects than ever.
"It's right as they're learning it, we're applying it," he said. "I did a unit on electricity. I'm doing a unit on plumbing, masonry."
Junior Bryce Smidt is taking it all in. He said he's retaining more than he does sitting in class or even on a job site.
"We learn a lot more than I think I would in an actual job," said Smidt.
But, they do have a job to do. As the Career Pathways Institute's first semester nears its end, students are building sheds for Habitat for Humanity homes.
"This is actually going to be used, so I think there's more pressure making sheds than there would be an actual test," said Smidt.
Forsman said his students have already shown they're up to the task.
"The kids have really bought into it," he said. "A couple of [them] today, they were off by a half inch and they started tearing it apart and rebuilding it because they want to make sure it's right."
Forsman said there's no doubt the new program is better preparing students for careers or two or four year colleges, but another goal is years from determining success.
"The hope is that we can provide the workforce for this community and we can get students to stay in the community," he said.
Forsman expects more students to take advantage of the certifications and college credits this program offers in the future.
The program also has Grand Island Senior High and Central Community College locations, which focus on everything from education to welding.
The application period for the career pathways institute is open now until mid–February.
More information on how to apply can be found here: http://www.careerpathwaysinstitute.org/how-to-apply.html.