Technical Careers High to graduate first class Thursday

When Chance Prouse first enrolled parttime at Technical Careers High School, he was struggling in traditional high school.

Prouse’s grades at Bonneville High School were low, and he’d occasionally skip class or slack off during class.

At Technical Careers High, that changed.

Smaller class sizes, hands-on, real-world applicable courses and students with like-minded career interests have allowed the 18-year-old Prouse to thrive. His senior year, he enrolled fulltime.

“Over here, I actually like coming to school,” he said. “I don’t (skip) anymore because I like what I’m doing here. Yes, I could (skip), but it’s not worth it. I’d rather be in school working on cars than just out walking around the river for no reason.”

Prouse is one of at least 22 students who will graduate from Technical Careers High on Thursday, as part of the school’s first graduating class. The ceremony begins at 7:30 p.m. at Rocky Mountain Middle School.

Technical Careers High opened in fall 2012, occupying several converted vocational buildings near Bonneville Joint School District 93 offices and Rocky Mountain Middle School.

About 220 students were enrolled in at least one class back then with three programs offered initially.

This year, enrollment has jumped to 495, who are taking at least one course. The school’s program offerings will expand to seven in the fall, with the addition of an Emergency Medical Technician-Basic certification program.

Enrollment is also expected to increase another 20 percent in the fall, Principal Craig Miller said.

“(These) students want opportunities to do hands-on things so that draws a lot of students in,” Miller said. “Also, a lot of these students who come here for core courses fulltime have found a place they belong — they feel comfortable, safe and successful so they tell their friends and family members about the success they’re having … I think word-of-mouth has started to spread through the community, and now, we’re just kind of starting to snowball downhill and gain more people and more support.”

And students such as Prouse, he said, are finding their niche.

“That makes mom and dad happy,” Miller said. “Instead of having to push their kids out the door to class, they now don’t have to wake them up in the morning because they’re excited for school.”

Prouse is the first on his mom’s side of the family to earn a high school diploma and soon will become the first in his family to attend college.

In the fall, he plans to pursue Idaho State University’s auto body program to learn to paint cars. He’s also planning a minor in business, because eventually, he’d like to open his own shop.

“If I had stuck with Bonneville, I’d have probably dropped out, I don’t think I would have made it,” Prouse said. “The fact that I’m graduating has a lot to with this school and preparing me a lot more than Bonneville ever did. I loved high school and I loved this setting, but after 14 years, it’s also about time to be done with it.”

Reporter Kirsten Johnson can be reached at 542-6757.