DeSoto Parish schools among Fast Forward grant recipients

DeSoto Parish schools among Fast Forward grant recipients
Yellow school bus (Source: WALB)

DESOTO PARISH, La. (KSLA) - DeSoto Parish Schools is one of eight school systems that will receive a $50,000 Fast Forward regional planning grant.

The Fast Forward Initiative is designed to increase the number of high school graduates who earn associate’s degrees and participate in apprenticeship programs across the state.

DeSoto Schools will work with post-secondary schools, businesses and economic development organizations to make this possible. Students are on TOPS University and TOPS Jump Start graduation pathways can earn associate degrees or participate in state-recognized pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship programs.

“The Fast Forward Initiative will create opportunities for our students to leave high school with an associate’s degree or gain meaningful work experience in high wage, high demand industry sectors,” said Josh Dahlem, coordinator of student services, in a news release. “We are excited for the opportunity this grant will provide.”

In the past, DeSoto Schools have partnered with ArkLaTex electricians in a pre-apprenticeship program that will be used as the model for the Fast Forward initiative.

“Students will complete the Electrical Training Alliance curriculum virtually, then go to work with local electricians to apply what they learned in the classroom to real-life situations,” reads a news release. “Upon graduation, these students will be qualified to go test and interview with the local electricians union, IBEW 194, and, if hired, could start as a year 2 apprentice.”

The Fast Forward pathways will be different from traditional dual enrollment programs. Students in the pathway will be on track to earn 60 college credit hours through their entire high school career.

A team will work closely with post-secondary institutes and schools to change the traditional high school experience. Any student who earns a transferrable associate’s degree will be able to enter any Louisiana college or university as a junior. TOPS Jump Start students will earn an associate’s degree and industry-based credentials.

“The Fast Forward pathways will provide a unique opportunity for our students,” said DeSoto Schools Superintendent Clay Corley, in a news release. “These students will graduate high school on the fast track to success and even greater accomplishments.”

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