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Pruden receives state grant

The College and Career Academy at Pruden is one of 16 high schools and technical centers across the state that has received a grant to buy new equipment and make other necessary improvements.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced the $600,000 in competitive grants to make equipment upgrades for career and technical education programs.

Each school, including Pruden, will receive $37,500.

“Technology is ever-changing, and our career and technical education programs must have the up-to-date equipment necessary to prepare Virginia students for the jobs of tomorrow,” Northam said in a news release, “which includes industries like high-tech manufacturing, bioengineering, health care and skilled trades.”

The money will allow for critical investments, Northam said, and give them tools to compete in a 21st-century economy.

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said replacing outdated equipment is essential for career and technical education programs to remain relevant, while State Secretary of Education Atif Qarni said the equipment upgrades are as necessary as pencil, paper and books.

“These grants will support much-needed equipment upgrades, which help facilitate excellent teaching and learning relevant to the needs of our local economies,” Qarni said in the release.

The money for Pruden will go toward buying a utility/heavy construction simulator, according to Andre’ Skinner, Suffolk Public Schools’ career and technical education coordinator. He said as a result of the grant, “we will add $1,300 odd dollars” toward its purchase.

He said the simulator will allow barrier-free training and allow students to experience realistic vibrations, machinery operations and timely feedback.

“Our students will be thrilled that this equipment has been added to the learning arsenal of machinery for the program,” Skinner said, “and will benefit greatly, especially during the unpredictability of the weather, in this construction pathway.”

Suffolk Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney said he is pleased to get the grant.

“It will enable our students in the program to use a state-of-the-art heavy equipment simulator,” Whitney said. “This simulator will provide specific feedback reports on students’ performance and will better prepare them for careers using such equipment.”

The competitive grant program was approved by the 2016 General Assembly, and the first grants from the program were awarded in 2017, when the Governor’s STEM Academy at Pruden also received a $37,500 grant under the state’s competitive grant program.