HOUSTON—Omar Díaz is well on his way to becoming a towboat captain. At 18, he already has some of the required training to make it happen.
By the time he graduates this spring, the high school senior is set to be the proud owner of an OSHA-10 card, a standard workplace-training requirement for maritime industry jobs, and a boating license. Díaz is pretty sure a maritime career will be a good fit. He has already been down to the Port of Houston, one of the world’s busiest, with his class to meet some of the workers who keep the place running, and he can envision himself as part of the team.
“We actually got to meet the people we’re going to work for,” he said, standing after class on a rainy November afternoon in one of his high school’s many bright hallways. In other words, while thousands of high-school seniors around the country ponder where they might land in that seemingly distant post-college landscape, Díaz has a firm plan.
He developed his plan with the help of his teachers at Career and Technical High School. If that name conjures images of some underfunded vocational dumping ground where kids with few prospects while away their formative years, think again.
Opened in 2014, the 247,000-square-foot school is a masterpiece of soaring ceilings and top-of-the-line technology. Educators from as far away as Japan have come to look at the building and to hear about the curriculum, which is also shiny and new, academically speaking.