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SCTHS to Offer Environmental Conservation Academy
 student at stuart Career Tech High School
Photo by Carrie Pryor-Newman
Alyssa Skarda, a 2015 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School, explores the area that will be the Environmental Conservation Academy at Stuart Career Tech High School. Skarda is a junior at Texas A & M University majoring in environmental geosciences.


SCTHS to Offer Environmental Conservation Academy


By: Susan Passmore

When the doors to the new Stuart Career Tech High School open for the first time, 85 freshman students will embark on a journey in one of four academy career pathways based on their area of interest. Last spring, eighth-grade students had the opportunity to apply for the Advanced Automotive, Culinary Arts, Environmental Conservation or Manufacturing and Industrial Maintenance academies.

At SCTHS, students will receive hands-on, project-based instruction with the goal to earn college credit and industry certifications in partnership with Lee College. Core classes will include integrated assignments and activities focusing on academy topics. Although SCTHS students will not participate in campus athletics or fine arts available on traditional campuses, intramural activities and events specific to SCTHS as well as SkillsUSA and FFA leadership activities and career competitions are encouraged.

Alyssa Skarda, a 2015 Robert E. Lee High School graduate, is especially interested in the Environmental Conservation Academy. Ranked No. 11 in her class, she received the Houston Endowment Scholarship and the Eddie V. Gray Scholarship at Texas A & M University in the College of Geosciences. Now a junior at Texas A & M University (TAMU), Skarda is majoring in environmental geosciences, and she’s pleased that Goose Creek CISD is offering this opportunity for students to experience courses and activities aligned with their career goals.

“I thought I wanted to major in pre-med, but I was also interested in how the environment affects people’s health, especially in Baytown with the chemical plants around,” Skarda said.

Balancing her high school classes with activities such as cheerleading, softball, Interact Club, choir and Student Council, Skarda managed to accumulate 15 hours of college credit. As a student in the academy, she could have earned even more college hours.

“By partnering with Lee College, our goal for students in the Environmental Conservation Academy is to graduate from high school with associate of science degrees, and those in the other academies will work toward associate of applied science degrees or college certificates,” said Renea Dillon, director of Career and Technical Education (CTE).

Goose Creek CISD partners with the Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Center to provide hands-on experience for students, especially those in fifth, seventh and ninth grade science classes. High school students have the opportunity to assist in experiments and research. The summer before her senior year, Skarda further explored her interest in environmental sustainability at GeoX Camp at TAMU, sponsored by Gray, but student recruiter Dr. Chris Houser, who came to Lee High School to talk to students about TAMU’s program, convinced her to apply to the College of Geosciences. She has an internship with the TAMU Office of Sustainability for the upcoming semester, and she hopes to return to GCCISD as a student recruiter.

“If the Environmental Conservation Academy at SCTHS had been available to me, I would have had a stronger basis of knowledge about environmental sustainability before going to college. I was excited about what I learned in environmental science class in high school and about being outside, so I decided to pursue geosciences, but I also might have decided it wasn’t for me,” Skarda said. “I just knew at a young age that I wasn’t going to be in a cubicle.”

Although Skarda isn’t sure what she will do after she graduates, she is already exploring opportunities available to her in the area of environmental sustainability.

“My major is versatile and interdisciplinary. I could work with environmental conservation in the oil industry, with geologists, or possibly work in government as a city planner or in community outreach,” Skarda said.

Skarda hopes that students will take advantage of the Stuart Career Tech High School Academies, especially Environmental Conservation, to enrich their high school experiences and help them determine a major in college.

“Last year, I got to study in Costa Rica, and it was paid for by the college. Right now, I’m taking advantage of any opportunity that presents itself and trying it out,” Skarda said.

For more information about Stuart Career Tech High School, call the school at 281-420-4550.


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