Juniors and seniors attending the career training Regional Occupational Center will notice a few new buildings and programs available to them when they return to school in August.
Construction is almost complete on five new educational centers on campus that will make pursuing careers in cosmetology, culinary arts, veterinary technician, automotive technology and construction trades achievable for students. All but one of the new centers will be completely finished by August.
The total cost of the project is around $25 million, according to Principal Brian Miller.
A sister campus, Career Technical Education Center, or CTEC, is also being constructed in southwest Bakersfield. The school will open in August 2020 and costs roughly $75 million, Miller said.
In total, 34 different program options will be available to ROC students in the fall, more than doubling the number available four years ago.
"Our board the last four years wanted to see more career technical education program options for kids, and the community wanted it too," Miller said.
When CTEC opens, half of the programs available at ROC — those in health care and technology — will move to the new campus. Both campuses will have about 1,300 students.
With each of the programs offered, ROC brought in industry professionals to advise officials what technology and skills are most important for students.
"A lot of these students are going to get jobs, and good paying jobs, when they get out of here," Assistant Principal Steve Mettler said. "It's a good opportunity for them ... to learn hirable skills — how to interview, make a resume, shake a hand, greet somebody."
Before doors officially open, Miller and Mettler took The Californian on an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the five new education centers.
Unlike most programs at ROC where students come either in the morning or afternoon for three hours, cosmetology students will spend a whole school day working in a full-service salon. Students will complete 1,600 hours of training in order to obtain their certificate.
Miller said the cosmetology program will be available only to seniors in the first year. Seventy-five students are enrolled, with 50 more on a waiting list.
The salon will be open to the public with several areas dedicated to different services: manicures/pedicures, color bar, an esthetician room with three stations, shampooing stations and 45 salon styling stations.
Students will also make appointments and sell products.
The culinary arts training facility will feature three areas: cooking, baking and business services.
One portion will be a cafe and bakery that will be open to the public on some days, Miller said. Another area is designated as the cooking lab, which will feature 12 cooking stations and will look out to the restaurant. Students will also work in a baking lab with industrial mixers and other appliances.
About 150 juniors and seniors will be enrolled in the program and attend either morning or afternoon classes.
Classrooms will be functioning in August, but the restaurant and cooking labs will not be open until October due to construction delays, Miller said. There will be set hours for the public, and a menu is currently being designed.
Miller said this restaurant will be different than Cafe 1600 at the Bakersfield Adult School, which operates daily except Mondays.
The veterinary technician station is a remodel project where students will be operating a fully functional animal hospital. Two instructors — a veterinarian and a registered veterinary technician — will operate the American Animal Hospital Association-approved facility.
Miller explained there will be a reception area run by students, three exam rooms, a pharmacy, wet and dry surgery preparation areas, X-ray room, grooming station and kennels.
The surgery room will have two tables each with a camera system hanging above to broadcast surgeries in classrooms. Students will also assist with surgeries, which will be performed by instructors.
Miller said the hospital will primarily focus on small animals when it opens in August.
There will be 100 juniors and students enrolled in the program, and it has one of the longest waiting lists.
There was an auto program previously, but Miller said there was a strong demand to expand and build a bigger auto shop to bring in 100 students in August. An evening program will also be available for high school students and adults.
Two classrooms will have a collapsible wall between them to allow for the space to open up, and windows will look toward the auto shop.
"We want people to see the interactions and what they're learning," Miller said. ROC officials visited several auto schools and they noticed an open space was common.
The auto shop area will include 10 bays for cars to pull in, with six lifts in the middle bays, a hand-washing station, tool storage and mechanical rooms and a reception area for customers.
The shop is an Automotive Service Excellence-certified facility.
The construction trades program is a brand-new option available to students in the fall. They will learn the basics of different trades — plumbing, electrical, roofing, carpentry, drywall, flooring — related to residential construction. They will decide which trade they want to focus and specialize on after they graduate, Miller said.
A culminating project for students will be building tiny houses in an outdoor area.
"That's really the way they'll take all those skills they learned and be able to build a capstone project," Miller said.
One area will be dedicated to practicing how to do drywall. In the shop area, one area will have a drop ceiling in order to learn how to do framing, and booths along walls will be dedicated for electrical training.
Sixty students will be enrolled in the program with one instructor who is a homebuilder.