Since 2001, <a href="">Anniston Army Depot</a> and the Alabama Department of Education have combined efforts to support the ANAD Career Academy.

Recognizing the need for educated and skilled workers at the depot and within the community, ANAD leadership developed the academy to provide local high school students with the academic coursework and on-the-job training required to become viable employees for the depot.

"We are very proud of our co-op students and enjoy having them on the Anniston Army Depot Team. Being a part of the Career Academy is an opportunity of a lifetime and a chance to support the Soldier in the field," said ANAD Chief of Staff Ray V. Minter.

For students training at the academy, it's the first part of a three-phase cooperative program. After graduation from high school and the academy, they begin their coursework in a technical college while working part-time in the depot's Nichols Industrial Complex. Career progression, the third phase of the program, begins when the student graduates college and becomes a full-time employee.

Students are recruited from approximately 45 schools in 11 counties, located within a 35-mile radius of the depot. Those selected for the academy are placed into one of five co-op opportunities: machining, mechanics, welding, hydraulics/pneumatics and electronics.

Selected students attend their respective high school for half a day and train at the academy the remainder of the day. While at the depot, students attend one hour of state-mandated coordinated studies taught by a certified educator.

"It's the best thing that's ever happened to me," said Malachi King, a hydraulics student at the academy.

After their coordinated studies, students conduct 3 1/2 hours of on-the-job training with depot instructors. Training is provided in an Occupational Safety and Health Administration approved facility outside the depot's industrial area.

"The parts they're working are those that they'll be working when they graduate high school and make their way to the industrial area," said Larry Simmons, instructor at the Career Academy.

Simmons has worked at Anniston Army Depot for six years - two as a machinist in the depot's Nichols Industrial Complex and the last four as a machining and hydraulics instructor at the academy. He already had a teaching certificate before coming to the depot, so his work experience and education led to his position at the academy.

A senior at White Plains High School, Tyler Ponder works and studies diesel mechanics at the academy where he builds Detroit V-8 engines - the same ones used in the combat vehicles produced in the depot's industrial area. He and his co-workers at the academy receive parts from the depot's machine shop and build the engines just like they do in the east industrial area.

"It's great to already kind of know what I'll be doing when I enter the depot on a full-time basis one day," said Ponder.

For their hard work, students are rewarded with one high school credit for the coordinated studies class and two credits for on-the-job training. Besides the beneficial work experience and school credits, co-op participants are paid employees and earn appropriate benefits such as sick and annual leave.

To be eligible for the academy, students must meet several requirements, some of which include: being 16 years old; maintaining a C grade-point average; passed the Alabama High School Graduation Exam and successfully interview for the position. Full requirements can be found in the <a href="">program brochure</a>.

"It feels good I can help contribute to our Soldiers," said Holli Eubanks, a senior at Pleasant Valley High School and a diesel mechanics student at the academy. "I hope to stay a mechanic here," she said.

Once the students complete the academy's program and graduate from high school they are eligible to enter into the depot's Technical College Co-op Program, the second phase. Prospective students must meet specific requirements, be selected into the program and accepted to a post-secondary educational institution.

"The program opened up a door of opportunity for me," said Evan Bush, a senior at Etowah High School in the academy's welding area who drives 48 miles, one way, to work at the depot. Bush said he looks forward to attending college in the fall as a college-level cooperative education student.

Students can earn up to nine hours of college credit at Gadsden State Community College. Participants who successfully complete an accredited post-secondary education will be eligible for non-competitive conversion to a full-time position if one is available.

The success of the program can be seen in its growth; the first high school co-op class in 2001 had 24 students. There are 100 students currently enrolled in the 2008 class. The facilities have also grown; the original 6,000 square feet facility consisted of a classroom, tool crib, administrative office and shop area. An additional 5,000 square feet has been added and includes welding bays and hoods, office space, locker room, and a break room.

Academy officials report interest in the program DoD-wide. The private sector has noticed too -- Mercedes Benz prototyped the co-op facility for its operations in Vance, Ala.

For more information on the Anniston Army Depot Career Academy, view the <a href="">program brochure</a> or contact Susan G. Hill or <A HREF = "">Anthony Stamper</A> at (256) 741-5340.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16