$16M expansion coming to Harlem High School in 2023

A new Career and Technical Education Center will be built on the southeast side of the school.
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 5:24 PM CST
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MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WIFR) - Exciting times for students in the Harlem School District as Harlem High School makes plans to start construction on a new $16 million Career and Technical Education Center.

“This will provide students with the opportunity to choose. Do I want to continue to go onto college in the field that I’m studying or do I want to go directly into the workforce, and we have students who are interested in both?” said Harlem’s director of secondary education, Jake Hubert.

About 13 and a half million dollars will be put towards bays for automotive repairs, a construction lab, and labs to learn welding skills. The other two and a half million will be used for renovations to the culinary and childcare spaces.

The district hopes this will better prepare students for life after high school, especially for those who don’t plan on going to college.

“The more we can expose our students to the different possibilities, the more they understand what’s out there, and an opportunity to explore what they’re interested in,” Hubert said.

With the cost of college becoming increasingly expensive, more and more students look for a more technical education instead, like Harlem High School Junior Jake Schultz.

“I wanted to do some trade, and I grew up loving heavy machinery and stuff like that so I wanted to see how that stuff was made,” he told 23 News.

Schultz wants to become a welder after college, and even though he won’t be at Harlem when the project is completed, he knows it will help his peers.

“You can learn a bunch of stuff with it, there’s construction, there’s auto, there’s metal-fab, there’s welding,” he said.

Five million dollars in American Rescue Plan money will help fund the project. The rest of the money will be collected through private donations, bond sales, construction bids, and the district’s general fund balance.

Through this project, this district will also work to set up partnerships with local businesses for internship opportunities for their students, so they can either go to college or go straight into the workforce after High School.