Florence City Schools Launch Program continues to see success

The program was started three years ago.

Posted: Oct 16, 2019 4:19 PM
Updated: Oct 16, 2019 5:52 PM

The Florence City Schools Launch Program puts students in apprenticeship roles with companies in the areas of manufacturing, tech, healthcare, media and others.

WAAY 31 caught up with a Florence high school senior, Grace Anne Watkins, at her apprenticeship with a local tech company through the program.

"I'm actually editing a tutorial video that is going to go up on the website," said Watkins, as she worked on her project. "It's not everyday that a high school student gets to intern with a tech company like this or almost any of the partnerships Launch has. I think it's an incredible opportunity and I'm blessed to have it."

Watkins also gets paid $15 an hour. The program has partnerships with more than 60 companies, including HGTV and NASA. It's so popular, 100 students are on a waiting list.

"We've just tried to operate with an out-of-the-box mentality," said Corey Behel, the Florence City Schools Director of Partnerships.

The idea of the program came about in Florence City Schools. The district saw so much success with its "12 for Life" program, so it expanded it.

"It triggered a thought in us that we need to provide another workforce vehicle or system. These students are interested," said Behel.

The program's goal is to launch students into future careers. The program is already nationally-recognized, even though it's been around for three years and other school systems are now implementing it, too.

"We've assisted Hartselle City Schools in implementing their "Tiger Launch," and they've had a positive response from that," said Behel.

Chase Lambert told WAAY 31 he works for an engineering firm through the program, and it has saved him time.

"I don't have to go through the training process. I already know what to do and how to do it, so companies don't have to worry about me potentially not wanting to work there after they've spent all this money training me," said Lambert.

Officials hope to expand the program in the future so students won't have to be on a waiting list to join.

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