Portions of content found at nytimes.com
At Boys Town campuses all across the country, young men and women are embracing a second chance at life and preparing for the road ahead, armed with skills that will serve them throughout their lives. While many aspire going on to college after they graduate high school, there are those kids for whom this is not an option.
For many years, the military was the classic alternative to higher education. But as admission standards have risen and competition for acceptance has increased, fewer young men and women are choosing a career in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines.
There is, however, a third option – one that offers secure employment, excellent wages and benefits and the potential for long-term job satisfaction. That option is vocational training, also known as career-readiness education.
This educational track offers students the promise of learning in-demand technical skills in construction, plumbing, HVAC and many other trades. Acquiring these skills in high school means that students can get a job upon graduating that pays $7,800 more per year than a standard laborer wage. It also means that they’ll have a head start over their competitors when it comes to advancing their careers.
At Boys Town’s main campus in Omaha, Nebraska, a newly renovated construction shop hums with activity as kids learn to cut and sand wood, while others learn the art of welding metal and small-engine repair. Industrial kitchen facilities are home to the school’s culinary arts program. There’s even a greenhouse for the horticulture program.
Having recognized the need for this educational path early on, Boys Town has been ahead of the curve when it comes to offering career-readiness education to its students. Correspondingly, the organization has invested heavily in developing technical programs and building and equipping the necessary facilities, giving students the real-world, hands-on experience employers so greatly seek.
Then again, despite its recent focus, this sort of vocational training is coiled deep within Boys Town’s DNA. In Father Flanagan’s day, boys could be found working the fields and tending to the livestock of the facility’s farm. Others could be found putting out a daily newspaper in the Boys Town print shop. Campus woodshops saw furniture built and repaired by the home’s young boys.
The idea was the same then as it is today – to provide each and every Boys Town resident with the support and training to reach his or her potential.
It’s the Boys Town way.