Mia Hart practicing a high risk arrest in Criminal Justice class.

Columbia High School senior Mia Hart practicing a high risk arrest in Criminal Justice class at the Rensselaer Education Center in Troy.

Later this month, students in the Columbia High School Class of 2022 will receive their diplomas at graduation and set out into the world – attending college, entering the workforce or joining the military. Everyone in the East Greenbush Central School District is proud of this class and everything they have overcome to reach this milestone.

To celebrate the Class of 2022, we will be featuring seniors this month and their exciting post-graduate plans. Congratulations to the Columbia Class of 2022!

Columbia High School students have amazing learning opportunities, both inside the school and outside it. All students, for instance, are eligible for the Career and Technical Education program through Questar III BOCES which offers courses with hands-on practical training such as Automotive Technologies, Cosmetology, Construction, and Culinary Arts. Students attend these programs every morning and then are bused back to Columbia for their other classes.

Four Columbia students who are graduating this month have taken Criminal Justice I and II at the Rensselaer Education Center in Troy. Over the course of the last two years, they have spent 2.5 hours every school day at the Rensselaer Education Center learning about law enforcement, forensics, courts and law, corrections, private security and public safety. 

“I try to introduce them to as many law enforcement career fields as I can,” said Criminal Justice Teacher Amy Gillett.

Along the way, the students have earned certifications for security guard, 911 dispatch and Red Cross First Aid and CPR, and they just recently completed internships. Their diplomas will also have a special seal through a Career and Technical Education Endorsement.

Jessika Rourke practicing a traffic stop in the Criminal Justice patrol car.

Jessika Rourke practicing a traffic stop in the Criminal Justice patrol car.

Following graduation, Jessika Rourke ’22 will be working as a 911 dispatcher at the Menands Police Department. She just completed an internship there and was offered a job.

During her internship, she answered many calls for drug overdoses, accidents and domestic incidents, and helped people in a time of need.

“I was nervous but I loved having the opportunity to get an idea of the path I want to go down,” she said.

Shawn Hoag ’22 also has a job lined up once he graduates from high school. He will be working as a security guard for Allied Universal.

“I’ve always wanted to be in law enforcement so this is a step in the door,” he said.

His long term goal is to become a police officer and he is well prepared for it given his training in class where students practiced traffic stops and arrests and worked simulated crime scenes. He completed an internship with the North Greenbush Police Department and is also enrolled in the Troy Police Cadet Post.

Mia Hart ’22, also a member of the Troy Police Cadet Post, wants to be a patrol officer or a K9 handler. She comes from a law enforcement family and will be attending The College of Saint Rose in the fall to study criminal justice, behavior and law.

Ms. Hart said her Criminal Justice class provided a hands-on opportunity to learn about potential careers in law enforcement.

“You’re not only just doing your required math or English classes, you’re doing what you want to do in the future,” said Ms. Hart.

Bailey Williams lifting and dusting for fingerprints during the national exam

Bailey Williams lifting and dusting for fingerprints during the National Occupational Competency Testing exam for Criminal Justice.

Bailey Williams ’22 will be attending Hudson Valley Community College in the fall and majoring in forensic science. She plans on pursuing a doctorate in forensic pathology and becoming a medical examiner.

Ms. Williams discovered her interest in being a medical examiner by watching a documentary in the Criminal Justice class.

“Watching the whole process fascinated me,” she said.

Each of these students is graduating from high school with a clear vision of what they want in a career, and thanks to the Criminal Justice class at Questar’s Career and Technical Education program, they have the knowledge and skills to achieve their goals.

“I really recommend going to vocational schools,” said Ms. Williams. “I really do.”