Madera Unified School District‘s newest middle school is designed to give students a head start on careers such as nurse, florist, computer programmer, plumber, and museum curator.

The district held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday on the site of the Concurrent Enrollment Middle School, a $36 million project on Lilly Street near Tozer Street and Sunrise Avenue. Funds from Measure M, a $120 million bond measure approved by voters in 2018, will pay the construction costs, said Rosalind Cox, director of facilities and planning.

Watch: A Preview of the Concurrent Enrollment Middle School

District officials say the new middle school is the only one of its kind in Fresno and Madera counties, and possibly in California.

Other school districts are providing project-based learning at all grade levels, said Kristin McKenna, director of college and career readiness. But McKenna said district officials have yet to find a school that integrates career technical education learning with project-based curriculum at the eighth-grade level.

Six Career-Themed Pathways

The new school will have six career-themed labs: agriculture, entrepreneurship, health, public safety, manufacturing and engineering, and digital and performing arts.

The district “will be visiting many similar programs this year to learn more with the 18 teachers and principal that will be hired,” McKenna said.

Eighth-graders will attend their home school for either the morning or afternoon session and be bused to the Concurrent Enrollment school for the career labs. The school’s maximum enrollment will be 1,080 students; 90 will attend one of the six labs during each half-day session in a space shared by three teachers working collaboratively, said McKenna.

Only about two-thirds of Madera Unified’s 1,667 eighth-graders will be able to attend the new school. Students will fill out an application with their top choices and will be selected by lottery for one of the six pathways, she said.

Sixth-graders Learn About CTE

Their preparation begins in the sixth grade, when they participate in a program that exposes them to the career pathways offered by Madera Unified. Seventh-graders can opt for a CTE Exploration elective that exposes them to the pathways, McKenna said.

“We feel like students can make a more informed decision prior to this school,” she said.

A campus map includes a lab space for agriculture, with two greenhouses nearby and a site labeled “ag land.” Other labs are labeled robotics, health, public safety, entrepreneur, and visual. There’s also a lecture room and a large shop space.

Preparing for CTE in High school

The goal is to prepare eighth-graders for the career pathways that they will find at Madera and Madera South high schools. Students at Madera South can focus on careers in agriculture and natural resources, and K-12 education. Madera students can choose among early child development, manufacturing and product development, engineering and architecture, and building and construction trades.

Some career pathways are offered at both high schools: arts, media and entertainment; business and finance; health science and medical technology; hospitality, tourism, and recreation; information and communication technology; marketing sales and service; and public safety.

The campus map of the new Concurrent Enrollment Middle School in Madera, which had a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday. (Madera Unified)

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