Shea High School shows off what's coming other RI schools

Students at Shea High School in Pawtucket are involved in learning about computers and robotics. (WJAR)

When you're learning how to operate robotics and animate cartoons, school work doesn't really seem like work.

But make no mistake, the students at Shea High School in Pawtucket are engaged in some serious learning.

"I took STEM my freshman year and I played around with Scratch, a program that allows you to make animations," said Patience Adegboyega, a senior at Shea.

"We also offer web design, where the students are learning HTML coding," said Emilie Mendillo, a business and technology instructor at Shea.

Earlier this week, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced the Computer Science for Rhode Island plan. It includes $260,000 in funding, and support from companies like Microsoft.

The goal is to prepare students for real world jobs. Right now, the state estimates only about 1 percent of Rhode Island high school students are enrolled in computer science courses.

For schools like Shea that are ahead of the curve, it means expanding upon an already successful program.

"They'll be ongoing support from URI, and then obviously in addition to that, potential credit for the students if they decide to attend a state university," says Mendillo.

Adegboyega will be in college this time next year, but she's knows expanding computer science courses will prepare her younger classmates for a successful future.

"I think it definitely opened my eyes to all the different opportunities out there," she said. "As we know, technology is in any and every business out there, so it will open their eyes to not just computer science, but any career that would involve the use of a computer."

The timing for this is perfect. The state Department of Labor and Training estimates there will be 4,000 openings for computer science jobs in 2022. That's right about when current Rhode Island high school students will be entering the job market.

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