PAC partners to open second CAST career-themed high school

September 20, 2017

Public Relations

Palo Alto College, part of the Alamo Colleges District, together with the Centers for Applied Science & Technology (CAST) and Southwest ISD are partnering to establish the second school in a network of industry-led, career-themed high schools in San Antonio. “CAST STEM” will offer pathways in advanced manufacturing, engineering, energy and power, and global logistics and is slated to open with 200 ninth graders in fall 2018. 

“Serving as champions for community access is part of the core values and mission of Palo Alto College,” said Dr. Mike Flores, president of the College. “Along with our partners at Southwest ISD, we have created an opportunity with CAST STEM where students can earn a college-level education while still in high school that prepares them to fulfill future demands of San Antonio’s growing workforce.” 

The CAST model emphasizes real-world experience and projects, with industry partners at the table from the early stages helping to plan curriculum and projects. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas, Inc., CPS Energy, H-E-B, HOLT CAT, Zachry Group, and other partners will offer opportunities for hands-on learning with industry-specific equipment, robotics, and other advanced technology. Between summer internships, job shadowing, and mentoring by industry professionals, students will be well prepared for the job interviews they are guaranteed upon graduation. 

“We’re not reaching out to the industry, we’re working with the industry,” said Southwest ISD Superintendent Lloyd Verstuyft, during a press conference on Sept. 19, adding that CAST STEM is made possible through a community-wide effort. “That takes vision.”

College coursework is embedded within the high school program at CAST STEM through the partnership with Palo Alto College. In addition to work experience, each student will have the opportunity to earn up to two years’ worth of college credits and industry-recognized certificates. 

“No matter what career students end up choosing, CAST STEM will give them a rare opportunity to explore real jobs and workplaces, make connections and relationships, and enter the workforce or college with confidence and credits under their belt. CAST is free for parents, but priceless for students as they gather skills and exposure that will prepare them for their career,” said Kate Rogers, executive vice president of the Holdsworth Center, who has been spearheading CAST on behalf of H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt. 

The first two years of the CAST STEM program will be located on the brand-new campus of Southwest Legacy High School. In the third year, students will move to Palo Alto College at the yet-to-be-built Welcome Center and Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence facility approved by voters in a recent bond for the Alamo Colleges District. 

The two Career Academies at CAST STEM – Academy of Manufacturing & Engineering and the Academy of Global Enterprise & Energy – will align with curriculum offered through Palo Alto College’s current programs in advanced manufacturing, engineering, and logistics and supply chain management. 

To learn more about Palo Alto College’s commitment to early access through high school programs, click the links for Early College High SchoolDual Credit, or TRIO Upward Bound. For more information about some of the career and technical educational programs that will be offered through CAST STEM, click here. 

What to read more? Check out news coverage from KSAT12, the Rivard Report and Texas Public Radio.