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Central Nine Career Center Gives High School Students a Head Start at Their Careers

Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing

Photography Provided

Located in Greenwood, the Central Nine (C9) Career Center is an area career & technical school dedicated to developing the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare students for employment in a chosen career or furthering their education at a post-secondary institution. C9, which opened in the fall of 1972, partners with nine high schools — Beech Grove, Center Grove, Franklin Central, Franklin Community, Greenwood, Indian Creek, Perry Meridian, Southport & Whiteland Community to provide students with practical, hands-on technical training and education that prepares them for college or the workforce. All classes are either dual credit or certification based.

“Our goal is to give these students the lessons and tools they need in their industry so that by the time they leave here, they are employable and college ready,” says Tiffany Sansone, Media Communications Specialist for C9. “When they graduate, they have work experience, a portfolio and a resume.”

Open to juniors and seniors (and occasionally sophomores), C9 offers 28 programs in seven different concentrations to help students discover their passion. For instance, they offer a culinary program that operates a restaurant called “To the Nines.” Open to the public on most Fridays throughout the school year, guests may enjoy either buffet style or a four-course meal.

“Everything is run by our students — both front of house and behind the scenes — whether they are ordering supplies or figuring out the amount of ingredients they’ll need to make certain dishes,” Sansone says. “They’re also learning customer service skills by interacting with guests.”

C9 also has a Landscaping program with the only school shrimp farm in the state. The Construction, HVAC and Landscaping program builds a real house that is auctioned off to the public. Last year’s house sold in 12 hours of going on the market. They have a Burn House on the property that’s used by students studying EMT, Fire & Rescue and Criminal Justice so that they can practice navigating a dark, smoky environment with little to no visibility. They also have a welding area, auto garages and visual arts workshop with video green rooms.

C9 recently added programs such as early childhood education, precision machining and aviation (both maintenance and operations). One of their most popular programs is Criminal Justice in which students learn things like handcuffing techniques and court procedures.

In addition, C9 has a separate division that offers adult ed classes in the evening for folks who are looking to finish their high school educations, want to learn a second language or are intent on pursuing a new career path.

Central Nine reminds students that trade workers are in great demand these days as there is a shortage of workers entering the field.

“So often the message students hear is, ‘You can’t get a job without a college degree,” Sansone says. “People forget the need and demand for non-college careers that can also be fulfilling and successful.”

The 45 C9 instructors are different from typical high school instructors in that they are currently working in their fields. For instance, one of the criminal justice instructors is the Franklin Chief of Police. Their culinary instructor is a chef who has traveled the country cooking for celebrities. Their auto instructors were recently nominated for a teaching excellence award because of how skillfully they take what they know in the field and apply it in the classroom.

Students are certainly grateful for the instruction they receive at C9. Former student Brittany Parrish, now an engineer and lead team manager at Honda Manufacturing, says she appreciated the “hands-on learning” at C9.

“I would encourage anyone considering vocational education to check into and really understand all of the great things that can come out of it,” Parrish says. “For me, it was a great experience and had a major impact on both my personal and career success.”

Central Nine is located at 1999 US 31 South in Greenwood. For more information, call 317-888-4401 or visit central9.k12.in.us.

16% take a course in Protective Services

16% take a course in Transportation

7% take a course in Manufacturing

15% take a course in IT

13% take a course in Human Services

24% take a course in Health Science

9% take a course in Construction & Landscaping

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