TWENTYNINE PALMS — Six years after Monument, the area’s alternative public high school, closed, the school has reopened to offer a new kind of alternative education.
The Academy of College and Career Excellence is run by Morongo Unified School District at the site of the old Monument high school in Twentynine Palms and the Town Center Mall in Yucca Valley. High school upperclassmen and adults of any age can take college and career training courses for free.
“Students need to have options and one of those options should be the ability to enter the work world in a career that offers advancement and a livable wage,” said Amy Woods, director of secondary curriculum at the school district.
“All of our career technical education programs now do just that and the Academy of College and Career Excellence East and West are two of the district’s hubs for career pathways that end in the opportunity for immediate entry-level certification in the field.”
Woods and MUSD Superintendent Tom Baumgarten Morongo Unified School District officials took representatives of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center on a tour of the former Monument facility Wednesday.
The tour was hosted by Gary Talley, new principal for the academy.
Participants from the combat center learned more about educational opportunities at the academy, including college courses for high school students and vocational training for students and adults.
Woods said later she hopes the academy and combat center can work together more in the future.
“We’re really excited about getting experts in the field who work on the base to talk to the students because they will be able to give them tips on employment,” she said.
Some of the careers at the Marine base mirror the skills taught at the Academy for Academic Excellence — like culinary arts, information technology and childhood development.
“The base is huge for cyber and drone technology and of course they have a huge child development center and a huge galley,” Woods said. “There are lots of opportunities for our kids if they didn’t want to leave the area.”
During the tour, she showed combat center representatives classrooms where students learn cybersecurity and drone aviation.
In another room, students learned how to work at a 911 dispatch center by fielding simulated calls.
In the early childhood development room, students get training for occupations such as preschool teacher, before- and after-school caretaker and family day care provider.
In the cybersecurity and drone room, Woods emphasized the high demand for certified technicians in both fields.
The academy’s focus is on leading students to state tests and certification.
“Everything is sequenced in a pathway and it’s all for the purpose of qualifying them to take a certification exam in that area so they are able to be employed,” Woods said.
“We are trying to produce employees.”
For more information about enrolling in the academy, call (760) 228-1162.