CHAMPAIGN — Champaign's Centennial and Central high schools both have new College and Career Centers, and they're both inviting the public to visits.
The College and Career Centers at both schools are now open in newly renovated spaces, and they're hosting open houses this month.
The open house at Central is scheduled for 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Parking is available in the parking lot north of the school, and visitors are asked to enter through the marked door on the north side of the building. The reception will be held in room 218.
Centennial's open houses is scheduled from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. March 12.
Visitors are asked to park in the south lot between Centennial and Jefferson Middle School, and enter through the south, proceeding to the newly renovated presentation space in room 119.
The College and Career Centers, and the counselors who work in them, are the results of restructuring at both high schools that started several years ago.
Marc Changnon said that process revealed a need to work with students more when it came to going to college or finding a career after high school. Changnon is the school district's coordinator for its career and technical education program and education to careers and professions program.
Laura Beata at Centennial and Jennifer Stroud at Central were both general guidance counselors, and became dedicated college and career counselors last year.
And in the years since the need was identified, the school board approved buying computers and furniture for the centers and, eventually, renovating spaces in both schools for the centers. The renovations cost about $460,000 and were paid for using money from interest earned on income from the schools facilities sales tax.
The spaces are places students know they can come for help for things like applications for college, scholarships and jobs, and can get help on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Both centers have copiers and scanners, which the counselors said are useful for students who need to provide documents for applications but don't have any other way to create digital copies.
Students may even come to the centers when they have questions about what classes they need to take to get into certain colleges or other post-high school programs, or what graduating high school early could mean for their futures.
Changnon said Beata and Stroud are also the ones whom community members can call if they're hoping to employ a Champaign student. They also handle visits from college representatives, the military and various trade programs.
And because Beata and Stroud can work together, they can do things like share buses for field trips, and share information with each other.
"We're more efficient, more effective," Changnon said.
Stroud said the open houses are a chance to let parents and others know about what the centers offer.
"It's (a chance) to come by and see how we are trying to meet the needs of every student," Stroud said.