More Than a Diploma: Preparing Students for Life After High School

Graduation day is one of the most exciting times of every high schooler’s academic journey. It’s a time for students, teachers, friends and families to celebrate years of hard work and achievements. And whether a graduate plans to attend college, begin working immediately, or do both—it’s a day that signifies the start of a new adventure that awaits.

Before we know it, our 2018 Academy seniors here in Lexington will be walking across the stage to accept their own diplomas. Yet, what they walk away with is actually so much more than just a diploma. At The Academies of Lexington, our students graduate with experiences and opportunities they will carry with them throughout life, college and careers.

As a partnership between Fayette County public high schools, students, families, educators, businesses, and community partners, Academies offer students more personalized learning experiences that help them find their own future paths to success. Between 2018 and 2021, students at Frederick Douglass, Bryan Station and Tates Creek high schools will be the first Academy graduates in our district—and we can’t wait to keep up with where life takes them after they cross the stage.

Here are just a few of the ways an Academy graduate’s education is different:


They have real-world, industry experience

Academy students have access to a wealth of hands-on learning opportunities, both inside and outside of the classroom. By taking field trips to local businesses and organizations that relate to their Academy, they can solidify or reevaluate their interest in a particular career path. And through job shadowing, students gain a better understanding of the everyday realities of particular professions—all while connecting what they’re learning at school to real-life applications.

Academy seniors can also complete internships to get a real idea of what it would be like to work in specific careers. For example, when Bryan Station IT Academy Senior Zach Ball completed his summer internship at Edvergent Learning, a K-12 focused Learning Management System in Lexington, he was able to see how technology is being used to better connect teachers and students to educational resources online. From discovering concepts like data mining to seeing how Edvergent trains teachers to use software, Zach walked away from his internship with a true understanding of what a tech job can look like. Even better, the experience helped open Zach’s eyes to his true passion—which he now knows is to pursue a career in education.


They earn certifications to work in in-demand, promising careers

Students in certain Academies will actually graduate with career-specific certifications that enable them to enter the workforce as soon as they’d like. For example, students in Health/Medical Sciences Academies can walk away from high school certified to work in positions such as:

  • EKG Technician
  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • State Registered Nursing Assistant / Medicaid Nurse Assistant

And these types of real-world career certifications are not limited to students who are interested in the medical industry. For example, Technology Academy students can become Apple, Adobe or Microsoft Technology certified associates, and Business and Professional Services Academy students interested in teaching can complete their Praxis. In addition to receiving certifications like these, students can also earn college credit for many classes—bringing them one step closer to reaching their goals after high school.


They develop essential skills that will carry them through life

By developing a strong work ethic, problem solving abilities, collaborative nature, creativity and responsibility early on, Academy students will be well-prepared to enter college or the workforce. With a focus on leadership, adaptability and communication, Academies help students master the essential skills that will be crucial to success in all aspects of their lives.

And because Academy students thrive in small learning communities, they also benefit from a culture of teamwork and creative thinking, which allows them to discover and nurture their own individual talents. They experience a real and sustained support system provided by the Academy coaches, principals, teachers and peers who’ve been with them all along.

With these types of experiences and opportunities at their fingertips, our Academy students gain a head start on life in the real world. They’re able to “test drive” a career path that will either reaffirm their passions or help them discover new ones. So when our 2018 Academy graduates receive their diplomas in just a few short months, we can take tremendous pride in knowing that they are walking away with so much more than a piece of paper.


Learn more about what each Academy has to offer, visit