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Boquet: ESJH writes code to high paying jobs

While the sounds of football drills, band practice and other extracurricular activities can be heard outside of East St. John High School after the final bell has rung, something new is happening a little more quietly inside the school.

Students are learning how to build video games, websites and put together animation in a new program through a partnership with Operation Spark.

Operation Spark is a non-profit organization based in New Orleans that seeks to solve two problems with one program.

The first: the high number of low-income individuals who drop out of college strapped with debt.

The second: the thousands of positions in software development in the state of Louisiana that go unfilled.

Operation Spark’s High School to High Wage Program links these two, by providing a quick route to a career in software development for students.

Students in the High School to High Wage Program learn HTML, CSS and JavaScript programming.

Program instructors teach students to write software using industrial tools, to write actual apps and to work in a team environment.

In addition to learning the core concepts of computer programming and basic front-end web development skills, students also learn about careers in software development through guest speakers and field trip opportunities.

By the end of the semester, students will create a live website that will host all of their projects from the semester.

This website will act as a portfolio to show future colleges and employers the work they have completed in the course.

The course also helps them prepare for an Industry Based Certification in Fundamentals of JavaScript, Functional Programming and Web Development (Level 1).

Students can eventually participate in more advanced programming classes and internships, all while continuing to build their professional portfolio.

These internships allow students to apply their web-design skills by working with local businesses to improve their websites and online presence while learning the client consultation process and other skills such as how to collaborate with a team of software developers.

Learning these skills can open up countless opportunities for students in fields that are only going to grow and pave the path not only for a job but for a career in fields most students are already interested in and excited about.

Students earn a Carnegie unit for their participation and may also be eligible to earn a professional credential. There are still openings for the classes, which take place after school from 3 to 6:30 p.m.

Interested students at East St. John High School should contact Mrs. Billie Duncan, who helped bring the program to the school after hearing about it at a CTE Leadership Academy, for more information and to sign up.

Jennifer Boquet is the communications specialist for St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools. Email her at jboquet@stjohn.k12.la.us.