ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. — The School District of Palm Beach County has more than 300 Choice and Career Academy programs that are producing the next generation of workers in our community across all professions.
In the next couple of years, a group of students at Royal Palm Beach Community High School could be the ones coming to fix the air conditioning unit in your home.
They are part of the school's HVAC academy, getting hands-on experience to be ready for the workforce.
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The breakers are on and the students are hard at work.
"A couple of the wires and transformers were blown out," student Stephen Leach said Wednesday.
Leach may be troubleshooting what's wrong with this unit, but his path after high school is clear.
"This course allows you stability and also a future. So it's helped me plan out most of my life," Leach said.
The students in the HVAC academy at Royal Palm Beach Community High School learn the ins and outs of the HVAC world, get hands-on practice with the equipment, and can earn industry certifications.
Many, like Leach, have job and internship opportunities before graduation.
"We think of this thing as the heart of the unit," teacher Patrick Raney said Wednesday, talking about a compressor.
Raney is the heart of this program.
"We’re giving back to the community, because they get to stay in Palm Beach County. They don’t have to leave home to find something. They can do it right here," Raney said.
After nearly 20 years leading the academy, Raney's passion isn't cooling down.
"I'm creating a pathway that takes a lot of years and most of our lives to find our way," Raney said.
Every student has their own story.
"I'm thinking about pursuing this after I graduate," student Courtney Charles said. "More specifically, the brazing aspect or piping aspect."
Maya Velani is learning the family trade to join her dad in business someday.
"He's actually really happy," Velani said. "He's the one who encouraged me to do it. So I was going to go ahead and take the leap."
Raney said more than half his graduates each year go right into the workforce, showing him that he's doing something right.
"It says I did my job. A job well done. Proud of it," Raney said.
This program takes students from all over Palm Beach County. So if you are interested in being a part of it, the deadline is Friday to apply for all Choice and Career Academy programs across the school district. To learn more and apply, click here.