Oxford School District unveils new Center for Applied Engineering

Published 3:28 pm Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Oxford School District has officially unveiled its new Center for Applied Engineering. The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at 10 a.m. Wednesday on the Oxford High School campus.

The center was constructed to accommodate the growing number of Oxford students in Oxford High School’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program.

The two-year CTE pathway courses are designed to offer students multiple options for life beyond high school. OHS offers a total of 17 programs such as Television Broadcast and Production, Sports Medicine, Culinary Arts, Horticulture and Computer Science to name a few.

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Students from 9th to 12th grade have the opportunity to explore real work experience through work-based learning and multiple partnerships with business, industry, economic development and post-secondary institutions. 

CTE Director Steve Hurdle said the programs are career-oriented and focused on getting students prepared for what they want to do after graduation.

“It gives students opportunity on the high school campus to get hands-on instruction,” Hurdle said. “Most of the learning and instruction in these programs are project-based, so it’s very relevant instruction. There is a high level of skill involved in these programs and, in order for the students to show mastery, they actually have to do something. It’s not just paper, book and pencil. It’s doing things, constructing things and developing things whether it’s making a robot from scratching and programming it to do something or a developer designing a program.”

The newly constructed center will house three of the 17 programs: Engineering, Construction/Electrical wiring and Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning. 

OSD formerly shared facilities with the Lafayette County School District for the CTE’s Construction program but increasing enrollment and student population demanded OSD to create a more accommodating space for its students.

Out of approximately 1,300 students, CTE has 587 students enrolled for the 2022-23 school year, which makes up over 40% of the Oxford High School student population. According to Hurdle, the goal is to get at least 50% of OHS students enrolled in CTE, said Hurdle.

“Our student population had grown to a point where we could support these programs ourselves,” he said. “We had kids that were not able to participate and some didn’t want to participate because they had to leave campus to go do it.”

Multiple locations on the high school campus were considered, but the district decided to build the center adjacent to the main school building, just next to the high school’s Theatre Department. The accessibility will not allow students to reach their lessons in a timely manner, but it could also encourage enrollment.

OSD Superintendent Bradley Roberson said it’s the school district’s responsibility to offer students as many pathways to educate students.

“The direct tie for us is to make sure that we’re preparing young people for the world of college and to also be able to navigate the world of work,” said Roberson. “By expanding our Career and Technical Education program and expanding this pathway for our students at Oxford, we think we’re able to accomplish that.”

Roberson said a community is only as strong as its school district and a school district is only as strong as its community.

Mayor Robyn Tannehill echoed the superintendent’s statement saying, “Any great community is centered around a great public school system, so in Oxford, we’re blessed to have this wonderful school district.”

“I think that we are all focused on the workforce of our future and this is a wonderful step in that direction,” Tannehill continued. “As kids are getting out of high school, whether they chose to go to college or enter the workforce, they’re prepared. So we’re really excited and I think this will be a great addition to the Oxford School District.”

To read more about the Oxford School District’s Career and Technical Education program, visit www.oxfordsd.org/Page/8931.