When hundreds of high school students returned to Randolph Career and Technical Center on Sept. 5, following their summer vacations, they surprisingly saw their learning institution had undergone major renovations. Renovations included new lighting, fresh paint, and revamped classrooms, among other improvements. For Randolph students, the improvements also meant expansion of programs to include carpentry, masonry, plumbing & pipefitting, HVAC, computer-aided design (CAD), heavy equipment simulation, and entrepreneurship. Additionally, the popular electrical course was reinstated after a three-year absence.
The improvements were part of a partnership between Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD), Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC), the City of Detroit and Mayor Mike Duggan’s Workforce Development Board. The price tag for renovations was $10 million, which was through funding and in-kind contributions from supporters and stakeholders on behalf of Randolph.
Principal Krista McKinney-King, who oversaw the renovations at Randolph, is excited for the students. “We think it’s going to energize them and help them get ready to get down to the business of learning these trades and build careers,” said McKinney-King.
One Randolph student that’s ready to get down to the business of learning following her summer vacation is high school senior Ja ‘Mea Delaine, whose home school is Mumford High School. Delaine attends Mumford the first half of the school day, where she takes required classes needed to graduate. The second-half of the day she takes skilled trade classes at Randolph.
“The construction trade program that I’m in this year is electrical,” said Delaine. “But for the past two years I’ve taken carpentry and have received a certificate. After graduation I plan to work for DTE as a lineman. This summer I worked in an internship program at DTE for eight weeks”
Delaine, who has a 3.5 GPA, believes Randolph’s skilled trade programs are extremely beneficial, because every high school graduate won’t attend college. Yet, each graduate needs some type of skilled training.
“If you complete one of Randolph’s skilled trade programs, your chance of getting a good paying job after high school is excellent. If I wanted to go to college, I could. However, I want to pursue a career at DTE right after high school, and Randolph has prepared me to do so.”
Skilled trades in high demand that lead to jobs are taught at Randolph, which is significant because of new construction projects of all sizes breaking ground across the city. According to a press release distributed by DPSCD, students at Randolph have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience for careers where entry-level positions range from $13 to $22 per hour.
With support from industry partners, students learn from local unions and construction contractors, with the potential to experience paid internships while in school and apprenticeship programs upon graduation. Randolph is also beginning to expand its traditional skilled trade programs to include training in robotics, coding, cybersecurity and medical professions.
“There is a need to create multiple pathways for students because we realize all our students have different talents,” said DPSCD Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti. “We need to have high school be a springboard to college or the world of work, and what has begun here at Randolph is a great example of providing students with the skills they need to help reach their potential.”
Dearius Keller, who graduated earlier this year from Randolph and East English Village Preparatory Academy, is in pursuit of reaching his full potential. Keller, now a freshman at Eastern Michigan University, is majoring in mechanical engineering.
“I have a two-year certificate in masonry from Randolph Career and Technical Center, which I’m very proud of,” said Keller, who attended Randolph for three years. “I want to one-day use what I’ve learned in masonry from Randolph and combine it with the college degree in mechanical engineering that I will earn from Eastern. While I could have gone straight into a masonry apprenticeship after I graduated from Randolph, I wanted to go to college to pursue my dream of becoming a mechanical engineer.”
DPSCD high school students in grades 10 through 12 are eligible to enroll in the half-day skilled trades programs (mornings or afternoons) at Randolph, located at 17101 Hubbell on the city’s west side. Transportation from home high schools is available to participating students. For more information on Randolph Career and Technical Center’s skilled trade programs, call 313.494.7100 or log on http://detroitk12.org/enroll/.