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Kent ISD's 'Launch U' program launches in August


It’s safe to say that most teens probably wouldn’t want to go to high school for five years. But what if they were given an Associate’s Degree and an $85,000 a year job at the end of the five years if they did? That’s what is being offered to students in Kent County, as the Kent Intermediate School District is set to begin the first year of Launch U this August. 

“Launch U is a middle college concept, which allows students that are in High School to take both high school classes and college classes and over the duration of five years, they will complete a high school diploma as well as an associate’s degree,” Kent Intermediate School District Bill Smith said. T

The way Launch U works is this--Students attend high school for five years, and along the way earn not only their diploma and associates degree, but they specialize in Mechanical Design earning certificates as they go. Once the five years are finished, the student is ready to enter into the manufacturing industry, where skilled labors are in high demand in West Michigan and the money is good.

“The highest rate of employability is in manufacturing in West Michigan," Smith said. "Manufacturing jobs its clean manufacturing, its robotics, it’s different types of technology that enhances the production process. So we have to change our mindset that the manufacturing world isn’t the 1960’s auto lab. It is a much different place. And requires a much different skill set.”

\While enrollment in the Mechanical Design program is full for this year, Smith said Kent ISD is going to launch two additional manufacturing programs in the fall, and enrollment will begin for the next school year.

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