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April 2014 Vol. 21. No. 5 Focus on Using School Time Wisely

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Swenson Arts & Technology High School

By Jeseamy Muentes on Apr 1, 2014 03:49 PM
Photo: Harvey Finkle
Swenson principal Colette Langston observes a Baking & Culinary student.

Swenson Arts & Technology High School principal Colette Langston lives by the motto: “If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.” 

“What’s different about us is we’re giving kids a trade,” Langston said. “They’re going to leave here with at least an inkling of what they’re good at.”

Swenson, in Northeast Philadelphia, is a career and technical education (CTE) school with 12 programs of study. Among the course paths are Baking & Culinary, Plumbing, Carpentry, Applied Electrical Science, Pre-Engineering, Automotive, and Allied Health. 

Students have to complete 1,080 hours in their selected area in addition to core academic classes. There are no breaks during the day except for lunch, when students are permitted to go to an outdoor patio for football, basketball, or other physical activity.

Students start their program of study in the 10th grade. In addition to learning about their specialty, they are offered supplemental classes designed to work with their majors. For instance, students in the culinary or automotive track can also take an entrepreneurship class.

With students traveling long distances from all over the city, most hop right on the bus after school.

Langston said one wise use of time during the day is the 94-minute double-periods that students have in all the shops. The time allows students to earn certification from the National Center for Construction Education and Research or corresponding organizations in the automotive and culinary areas.

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