Magnet Schools

Bob Brown/Alachua County Today

Alachua County SWAT team members demonstrate special weapons and tactics to students at the Newberry High School Law Enforcement Expo.

ALACHUA and NEWBERRY – High School students interested in vocational opportunities after graduation have several options in different county schools.

Students can receive training within Career Academies, commonly referred to as magnet programs, that specialize in providing education tailored to particular lines of work.

While there are 13 Academies spread throughout county high schools, only two of those schools are outside the city of Gainesville.

Santa Fe High School in Alachua is home to both the Academy of AgriScience and the Institute of Biotechnology, while Newberry High School houses the Academy of Criminal Justice.

JoAnn Brady, Director of the Academy of AgriScience, said students who have completed the Veterinary Assisting program are eligible to test for the Veterinary Assisting Certification through the Florida Veterinary Medicine Association.

“It prepares students,” Brady said. “They are having many experiences with animals and training that would prepare them for vet school, and the FFA provides really great leadership opportunities.”

AgriScience offers tracks other than Veterinary Assisting as well, such as courses in plant science, farm power and machinery, and livestock judging.

“My philosophy is to have all the doors open for them when they graduate,” Brady said.

The kinds of research in AgriScience and Biotechnology can be intimately related, which makes the housing of both Academies at Santa Fe ideal.

A greenhouse and hydroponics center allows students to grow plants without soil by using liquidized nutrients instead.

Tyler Jones, a senior in the Institute of Biotechnology, said he likes working with plants the most.

“At first I didn’t even know what it [biotechnology] was, and as I kept going, it got more and more interesting, and I love science,” Jones said. “Mostly I like plants.”

Jones plans on going to the University of Central Florida to major in biotechnology.

“The important thing about our program is that there’s an industry certification that used to not be available called the BACE exam,” said William McDavid, Director of the Institute of Biotechnology. “It proves that the students can work in a lab, that their skill level is worthy.”

Water Resource Specialist, Bio Technician, and Lab Assistant are a few of the jobs available upon completing the biotechnology program at Santa Fe.

Students may also be able to capitalize on the close proximity of several biotechnology companies located in and around Progress Park in Alachua.

At Newberry high school, the Academy of Criminal Justice is a magnet program that is associated with the Criminal Justice program at Santa Fe College in Gainesville.

Director Patrick Treese has been teaching, recruiting and guiding students through the program since 2008.

There are four levels of training. According to Treese, in ninth grade, students are taught street law, proper handcuffing techniques, and how to conduct traffic stops. In tenth grade, investigation is the focus, while state law is highlighted in eleventh grade and on-the-field situations in twelfth.

As a sworn Federal Enforcement officer, Treese brings first-hand knowledge to the students.

“I tell my students to turn off the TV, turn off the social media, because what they see on there in regards to law enforcement is not real,” Treese said.

On average, Treese teaches about 150 students, and he said about 80 to 85 percent go on to college.

The students that Treese has taught still come to him long after graduation for guidance and letters of recommendation.

“If the kids want to get into law enforcement, I’m there to help, to make sure they are successful,” he said. “I tell them all the time, the decisions you make now affect you later down the road.”

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