For more than four decades, the Cass Career Center has helped thousands of students make solid strides toward dreams for their future.
The center, which serves 10 area high schools, offers nine career and technical education programs designed to prepare students for both post-secondary education and highly skilled careers.
These programs include criminal justice/CSI, health science, EMT, marketing, fire science, welding, construction technology, automotive technology and agriculture. A two-year information technology program, focused on networking and cybersecurity, will be added for the 2019-20 school year at the Harrisonville center.
Each year, more than 450 students graduate from the center with the knowledge and skills they need take the next step toward their goals.
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“Hands-on career technical education is the way students learn today,” said Jeannette Flanner, Cass Career Center director. “Some people have a misconception that students here can’t handle a traditional high-school setting”
Another misconception, she said, is that the center is oriented toward students who aren’t planning on college.
“Neither could be further from the truth. Whether they head for college, or straight into a career, our students are prepared when they leave here.”
The center’s career and technical education curriculum offers both industry certifications and dual college credits in a majority of the programs. For example, students in the one-year health science program can earn up to seven hours of college credit, as well as complete their CNA certification.
This allows graduates the option to work in a medical setting immediately upon completing the program. If students plan to continue their education, the CNA certification provides an advantage in the competitive nursing school environment — and they can also work in their field while pursuing additional education.
All staff members at the Cass Career Center are professionals who bring real-world experience to students. The center also regularly invites college, trade school and industry partners to share their experience and knowledge, as well as make professional connections for students. An integrated academics team works with students in math and English specific to their programs.
“The academic rigor in our building is intensive,” Flanner said. “These high school students are taking adult certifications and passing, while also gaining college credits.”
Hailey Brunner, a Harrisonville High School senior, passed and achieved that certification. In fact, she has achieved multiple certifications in two separate programs.
In addition to the numerous dual college credits she’s acquired, she has received basic firefighter and hazmat certifications in the fire science program. Through the EMT program, she is certified in CPR and Stop the Bleed.
“My career path kind of differs from what I have learned at the CCC, yet it hasn’t,” Brunner said. “I will not be out in the field helping people, but will be the person who answers the phone in your time of need. My career plans are to be a dispatcher for fire, EMS and police.”
In addition to their programs, the center’s students are involved in national vocational organizations that provide a wide range of opportunities. Through these groups, such as FFA or SkillsUSA, students learn to present to, and work with, community and industry leaders. They also compete against peers at the local, state and national levels and learn about employment possibilities.
Though the Cass Career Center primarily serves high school students, it offers an adult accelerated practical nursing program. Several other certification classes are also offered through its community education department, such as fire I and II, EMT, CNA and medical coding.
“CCC this gives our students opportunities to be successful, wherever they go in life,” Flanner said. “Many people who know what a difference we make in the lives of students feel we are still the best-kept secret in Harrisonville.”