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COQUILLE — High school students throughout Coquille will soon have the chance to learn new trade skills this fall as the Coquille School District prepares to open its new Career Technical Education Center.

Tim Sweeney, the district’s superintendent, said the center will offer students interactive courses in cosmetology and construction as well as lessons on operating heavy machinery.

“We have about 20 students interested so far in the cosmetology program and about 30 students in construction,” said Sweeney. “We hope to have the center open in October, but it could be a little later this fall.”

Working with community partners, Caterpillar Inc., West Coast Contractors and Mt. Hood Community College, allows the center to directly connect with employers and educators to help ensure students find success after completing their courses, said Sweeney.

For the cosmetology program, the center will feature a salon-style layout equipped with about five work stations made to help students learn more about hair, nails, skin care and makeup. The construction portion will also feature a workshop for students to perform a variety of tasks relating to assembly and construction.

According to Sweeney, the district has already purchased two construction simulators, which include a front loader and excavator, from Caterpillar Inc. The center is looking to add two additional simulators in the near future as the program grows.

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In addition to providing its new trade school curriculum, Sweeney also said the district is looking to work with local businesses interested in getting their employees trained using their newly acquired simulators.

“We’ve been keeping the community in mind as we have begun constructing the center,” he said. “We will have a separate entry to our simulator room away from the school for those wanting access on the evenings or weekends.”

For the past few years, Sweeney said the board has recognized the importance of offering courses and curriculum centered on building students' technical abilities and giving them options to enter the workforce successfully.

“We know not everyone wants to go to college and that some students want to learn the skills they need to be job ready,” said Sweeney. “We’re really excited to be closer to having (the center) and making sure the needs of our students are met.”

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Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-2039 or by email at amanda.linares@theworldlink.com.

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