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August 2--  When the new school term starts August 12, there's a new place for area students to learn.  Local leaders hope it will reduce the high school dropout rate and help improve the area's workforce readiness.

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The Southeastern Early College and Career Academy (SECCA) ribbon-cutting was held Monday at the new $7 million dollar building on the campus of Southeastern Tech in Vidalia.

It's the first regional career academy in the state and will serve students from high schools in Vidalia, Toombs, Montgomery and Treutlen counties.  State Senator Tommie Williams of Lyons started the ball rolling on the project seven years ago.

{mosimage}"It's a place where kids want to come to learn, where they don't want to drop out, where they are serious and where they see a vision for a time when they might have a job.   This is a real inspiration for this county.  People in politics get involved with a lot of things.  Some work out and some don't work out, but for me this is the most important thing I've ever been involved with and thank you all who had a part in making it happen," Senator Williams said.

 

Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle has been a driving force to create career academies statewide and helped get funding for the one in Vidalia.{mosimage}  

"We have for too long said that for every student to be successful, you've got to go to college.  I want every student to have the opportunity to go to college, but I also want us to understand that 80 percent of the workforce tomorrow is going to need some type of technical training. It's critical.  

"What we've done with career academies is that we've not only shown relevance, we've given real accountability and real results.  What we have today with career academies are 98 percent graduation rates and 100 percent placement rates when they're finished," Cagle said.

Dr. Ryan Flowers from Vidalia High School is coordinating course offerings and scheduling with the other three school systems which are part of the career academy.