COLUMBUS – A new computer science initiative for area teens is drawing increased interest from parents and educators, and local schools participating in the program are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
Area lawmakers, who supported funding in the state budget for the program, say they aren’t surprised by the growing interest in the Ohio Code-Scholar Pilot Program which will help students secure valuable skills and experience.
“This is an exciting, fast-growing field,” said State Representative Shane Wilkin (R-Hillsboro). “I’ve talked with parents, teachers and community leaders who think this will be a real opportunity for students to build their skills and learn more about potential career opportunities.”
State Representative Brian Stewart (R-Ashville) agreed.
“Our goal is to help students learn about computer coding and have the opportunity to earn an industry certificate,” Stewart said. “With that foundation, hopefully we are opening the door to a wide range of computer science and IT educational and career opportunities.”
The program is being designed by a coalition of local high schools, career technical schools, local Education Service Centers, business leaders and various state officials. Southern State Community College will serve as the fiscal agent and will support the work of the coalition.
State Representative Mark Johnson (R-Chillicothe) said the new initiative will expand opportunity for area students and open new doors for educational and career opportunities.
“My focus is expanding opportunity for our area and that’s exactly what this program does,” Johnson said. “We’re working to make sure students in southern Ohio have the tools and opportunities to be successful in school and in life. This is a really important initiative that is going to make a difference.”
The locally-developed, locally-run program has its roots in the community. Wilkin said a constituent came up with the idea after seeing how more could be done to expand tech-related training and career opportunities for area students.
“I want to make sure our kids have the tools and opportunities to help them be successful, and that’s why this is so exciting,” Wilkin said. “It really began with an idea, and with a lot of work by a lot of people in the community, we were able to create what I believe will really benefit students in our area.”
Wilkin said the program is starting small so that it capitalizes on the success of different districts, career-tech centers and post-secondary school opportunities students currently have in grades seven through 10. He believes the program will serve as a template for success in other Appalachian communities as well.