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February 27, 2008 > SHAPE of success

SHAPE of success

By Tarun Bhatnagar
Photos By courtesy of Melanie Gavin

In 2007, Fremont's Irvington High School received funding from the Smaller Learning Communities Grant. Pete Murchison, principal of Irvington High School, decided to utilize these funds by launching a new program known as the S.H.A.P.E. Career Academy.

S.H.A.P.E. is a program that acts as a career pathway preparing students for jobs in science, health, athletics, and physical education (which is where the acronym S.H.A.P.E came from). It caters to each student in the program by directing them to courses in chosen career choices. Similar to the four year breakdown of college, the first two years of S.H.A.P.E. are general courses that give students a "taste of everything." These courses are integrated within normal English, Science, Health, and Physical Education classes. They educate students about a wide variety of career paths, ranging from diagnostic imaging technicians, sports trainer, to veterinarian. After the required prerequisite courses are satisfied, the last two years of S.H.A.P.E. allow a student to pick a field of interest and learn extensively about it.

Melanie Gavin, coordinator of the program, stated that S.H.A.P.E. allows students to learn about careers they are interested in, integrating this learning into the classroom. This serves a double-benefit to students as they remain interested in the normal school curriculum and get hands-on experience in the field of their choice as well. Even better, students that participate in S.H.A.P.E. get invaluable internship and shadowing positions, as well as networking possibilities. Gavin also said that S.H.A.P.E. can help students with Q.U.E.S.T., a senior project at Irvington High School.

Currently, S.H.A.P.E. has about 120 students, evenly split between freshman and sophomores. Also, Irvington High School is the only school in the Fremont Unified School District that offers S.H.A.P.E. As this is a relatively new program, it is likely that other schools in the district will also adapt programs similar to S.H.A.P.E.

To enroll in S.H.A.P.E., a student must apply for the program in either eighth or ninth grade, as the general education period is a requirement. Also, the student must submit an application which includes a writing sample. Gavin stated that as of now, S.H.A.P.E. is not a competitive program however the number of applicants has been increasing.

When asked why there is a need for S.H.A.P.E., Gavin said the program is crucial to high school students. Gavin stated that S.H.A.P.E. allows students to remain passionate about education and helps ensure success after high-school and college. Furthermore, the students in the program are with each other for the bulk of the day, allowing them to bond.

Although S.H.A.P.E. is a new program to Irvington High School, it has already shown signs of success with students and teachers. S.H.A.P.E. is a wonderful opportunity for students to build close relationships with the community, and learn about a myriad of career pathways. If your child attends Irvington High School, and is interested in an education geared towards a certain career path, S.H.A.P.E. is definitely the way to go.

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