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Pruden Center plans open house

Educational opportunities are becoming more competitive, and jobs are becoming scarcer.

To find out how your high school student can get a leg up on the competition or how adults can a jumpstart in their industry, the Pruden Center for Industry and Technology is hosting its annual open house on Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“It’s an opportunity for prospective students to have firsthand knowledge of and experience the course before they’re committed to it,” said Connie Burgess, assistant director of the Pruden Center. “It’s a time to try on some of their career interests and see where they might fit here.”

Since 1975, the center has provided career and technical education for high school students who attend Lakeland, Nansemond River, King’s Fork, Smithfield or Windsor high schools as part of their free public education experience and can earn elective credit toward high school education.

The open house will allow individuals to tour the facilities, ask questions and become familiar with the courses offered at the center. Teachers also will have equipment and instruments available for students to handle.

“Students will be able to have some hands-on experience and handle some of the equipment they’d be using in their desired profession,” Burgess said.

The center boasts a variety of instructional programs — including culinary arts, cosmetology, emergency medical technician and nurse aide programs — wherein students can receive licenses to gain immediate access to jobs or to use their education in higher academic pursuits.

Modeling and simulation support specialist and a geographic information system programs are the two most recent additions to the center’s opportunities for students. Upon the completion of either program, it is possible for students to begin entry-level work at $30,000 a year.

In addition to the fundamental education opportunities it provides for students, another strength of the center is the network it facilitates between students and prospective employers through internships.

“Students put to use their academic, career and technological knowledge,” Burgess said. “One of our public works students did an internship with the City of Suffolk, became employed full-time and was recently promoted to a leadership position.”

Participants at the open house also will have the opportunity to vote on program displays and learn more about FIRST, the Governor’s Career and Technical Academy, which includes five different programs.