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Dual enrollment offered to sophomores
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Pictured are students in Warren County High School’s inaugural dual enrollment Machine Tool Technology class for sophomores. Pictured, from left, are Thomas Woodlee, Johnathan Bond, Chance Hendrixson, Isabel Almaguer, Brayan Holguin and Nathaniel Williamson. Not pictured are Jesse Dodson and John “J.T.” Smoot. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

Warren County High School sophomores can now get a head start on their careers, if that path is related to the Machine Tool Technology field. 

“Dual enrollment classes are generally only for juniors and seniors,” said John Qualls, one of two instructors over the Dual Enrollment Machine Tool Technology course offered by Tennessee College of Applied Technology on the high school campus. “Through our partnership with Citizens for Progress, up to 10 sophomores will be able to get college credit at Tennessee College of Applied Technology toward a Machine Tool Technology diploma each year.”

In the inaugural class are Jesse Dodson, Brayan Holguin, Nathaniel Williamson, Chance Hendrixson, Isabel Almaguer, Johnathan Bond, John “J.T.” Smoot and Thomas Woodlee.

Those students are looking toward their future, but also the future of automation in manufacturing.

“Robots are cool and machines are cool,” said Bond. “When I was young I used to take things apart to see how they worked. When I broke a few things, I stopped that. I think the future will be automated.  I think this is a good class to get started in that direction when everything does become more about robots and machines.”

Prospective students go through an interview process with a panel from TCAT, WCHS and Citizens for Progress and are then selected based on this interview and a review of their academic achievements. Those who begin the program as sophomores and continue for three years will significantly reduce the time it takes to obtain their diploma at TCAT and will allow them to start a rewarding career in most cases in less than a year after graduating high school.

Career opportunities include CNC operator, CNC programmer, machine builder, machinist, and tool and die maker.

“The goal of our dual classes are to provide as many opportunities for students to gain greater understanding of the trades and better prepare them for a career after graduating from TCAT,” said Qualls. “Currently we offer Machine Tool Technology and Welding, but there plans to offer more dual courses in the future.”

Warren County High School executive principal Clark George offered praise for the joint effort.

“I like seeing students leave this school knowing they are prepared to enter the workforce or that they will go on to continue their education,” said George. “A lot of school districts don’t have the community support we have in Warren County. That’s why dual classes are possible here. It’s a joint effort between the school system, TCAT and Motlow, and the community. We’re all working together to provide a brighter future for these students.” 

The Citizens for Progress Scholarship Fund began in July 2007. Since that time, well over $1 million has been raised and awarded to the youth of Warren County. Scholarships are also offered to students who wish to join dual enrollment courses at the high school in collaboration with Motlow State Community College.