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Hampton changes involve remaking its four high schools into career academies

When school starts Sept. 5, Hampton teenagers will enter newly revamped freshman classes that will ask them to start making decisions that could impact the rest of their working lives.

This fall, every freshman in Hampton will enter into freshmen academies, described by school officials as small learning communities focused on groups of students and teacher teams. Each freshman will take Success 101, an elective designed to help him or her devise a 10-year career plan while exploring possibilities after high school.

As sophomores, the students will then enter one of 15 career academies at each of the high schools, which could involve switching to an out-of-zone high school. The academies, such as Phoebus High School’s Hospitality and Tourism Academy, will be broken down by career “pathways,” or individual jobs that study could lead to.

Have a great singing voice? The vocal arts pathway in the performing arts academy at Kecoughtan High School may be the right fit. Business-minded teenagers could check out the business management track at Bethel High School’s Information Analytics, Transportation and Logistics Academy.

Once they enter academies, this year’s freshmen will learn their academics as required by the state. But the goal is that each class will be taught through the lens of the students’ chosen career path, with examples and lessons from local businesses that align with the chosen path interwoven throughout their studies.

A math class in Hampton High School’s Aerospace, Trades and Information Technology Academy might sound and look a bit different from one inside the school’s Arts and Entertainment Academy. Word problems will, according to the plan, focus on real-world scenarios applicable to the chosen career path.

Job shadowing begins as early as 10th grade — the last year in which a student can switch to a different academy. As juniors, students will be expected to earn industry credentials…

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