Orange County showcases magnet school programs

Veterinary Animal Science offered at Colonial High School in Orlando

Local 6: Morning News at 6a
Local 6: Morning News at 6a

ORLANDO, Fla. – Students in Orange County are getting the chance to learn about a different way to go to school.

We all know about subjects like reading, math and history, but what about classes for aerospace or veterinary science? Those are just a couple of the 33 different magnet programs offered in Orange County elementary, middle and high schools.

The district is hosting a Magnet Fair on Thursday evening at Edgewater High School so parents and students can come and explore the different programs OCPS offers.

At Colonial High School, students are enrolled in the Veterinary Animal Science magnet program. Many of the students went into it with an interest in dogs and cats, but the program has led them to explore other degree and career options as well.

"I looked it up when I was in the fifth grade and since it's so far from my house, since I live in Windermere, it was starting to look farther and farther away from an opportunity," said Alexis Garcia, a sophomore in the vet magnet program at Colonial High.

The magnet programs provide school choice to parents and students. Garcia says she considers herself lucky because the 45-minute commute from home to school for the vet magnet program is made convenient with her mother working right around the corner.

In the vet magnet program at Colonial High, students learn through a combination of classroom instruction, hands-on activities and a lot of responsibility. Before you get to the classroom, you'll likely come across a 120-pound gopher tortoise roaming the hallway. His name is Gigantor and the students are his caretakers. Out back is where students keep pigs, goats, alpaca's, sheep, snakes and several species of plants. The students work alongside their program coordinator and teacher, Timothy App, learning how to raise, breed and care for their animals.

"It gives them the opportunity to look at what some of the different career options are for them to study and pursue so they can make an educated choice while they're in high school and they're not trying to make that choice while they're in college," said App.

What these students do in the Veterinary Animal Science Magnet Program is just one example of the more than 30 magnet programs offered in Orange County Public Schools, including but certainly not limited to performing arts, medical and engineering.

This school year, there are 7,200 student enrolled in magnet programs district-wide. The application process for the 2015-16 school year just opened and closes in February. If you or your student are interested in any programs the county offers, the district encourages you to attend the Magnet Fair at Edgewater High School on Thursday evening from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Teachers and program coordinators from all magnets will be there to answer questions.

"It's a way to explore. A lot of times if you just go online, you don't really get a real, true feeling for what is at the magnet and what a student would get out of the magnet. So this provides them an opportunity to talk to teachers and coordinators about the programs," said Shari Bobinski, senior media specialist for Orange County Public Schools.