New Career Academy opens in Muscle Shoals

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A welding student at the Muscle Shoals Career Academy practices cutting a piece of metal during lab work. (WHNT - Carter Watkins)

MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (WHNT) – With the cut of a ribbon and a round of applause, the new multi-million dollar Muscle Shoals Career Academy officially opened its doors to students Friday.

It’s been a long time vision of Gary Dan Williams, the Director of Career and Technical Education for the Muscle Shoals School System.

“We want them to be able to be educated, we want to be able to draw business and industry here, so all students will have an opportunity if they so choose to be able to live and work in our area for years to come,” said Williams.

Career Academy leaders say 1,100 students a year will enter the classrooms and labs.

Students are trained in areas of medicine, welding, information technologies, as well as countless other programs.

Tucker Byrd started the welding program three years ago and he already realizes the benefits the new center will have on his career after school.

“It’s amazing. Just to have all of this at your hands. There is so much stuff you can do that a lot of kids just don’t have the opportunity to do anywhere else,” Byrd explained.

And Shoals leaders say the students training here will help diversify industries being recruited to the area.

Several programs offered at the Career Academy are taught as a dual enrollment, meaning students in the program get college credits for their completed course study.