Science and health curriculum specialist Cheryl Gillenwater was hired to further improve the science department of Calallen High School. Gillenwater, along with LyondellBasell Industries, began an Industrial Academy to help prepare students for high-wage industrial jobs.

One of the new courses that will be open to students at CHS is the Process Technology course. This course is mainly for students who would require training for such as jobs making building materials and refining jet fuels, metals and plastics.

Process technology involves every aspect of chemical processing, including extracting and refining chemicals such as oil and natural gas.

The program is associated with Del Mar College and LyondellBasell Industries and provides jobs and scholarships to students who wish to enter this field of work.

Most of these jobs do not necessarily require college degrees, but do require some form of training that these technical school courses can provide.

"Calallen is trying to expand the opportunities for students to be trained for well-paying jobs," said science teacher Bruce Jonason. "Process technology is a real fast track for students to acquire great jobs shortly after high school."

Process technology is a two-year course in which students will work with real refinery equipment and learn valuable information such as the chemistry involved in the refinery.

In 2008-09, CHS is adding an instrumentation course that can be used toward an associates degree in process technology or toward a National Center for Construction Education and Research certification, which will allow the student to gain employment.

LyondellBasell Industries has continued to support the process technology program at Calallen by providing equipment, such as a pump cutaway, which was delivered by Rodney Litchenberg, the rotating equipment specialist, and Kevin Stafford, superintendent of maintenance for LyondellBasell Industries. LyondellBasell will also be providing the instructor for these instrumentation courses.

"We are happy to support CHS in its development of the Industrial Academy to help prepare students for the skilled workforce needs of industry," Stafford said. "Our employees who worked on the pump cutaway were excited about the opportunity to provide such a valuable teaching tool to students."

Students will be working with this tool in addition to several others in this course to get the hands-on experience of dealing with the type of equipment that will be used in these industrial jobs.

Currently, pay rates for a worker with an associate's degree start at $50,000 per year, and within seven to eight years this can grow to an annual income of up to $100,000 per year. There are three types of jobs in this industry; unskilled jobs, skilled jobs, and professional jobs.

Unskilled jobs require only a high school diploma or equivalence and make up 15 percent of the industry. Skilled jobs require a postsecondary education, but not necessarily a four-year degree, and make up 65 percent of the industry. Only 20 percent of the industry's jobs are professional, which require a four-year degree or better.

There are currently about 2,000 people enrolled in process technician programs in the Gulf Coast. However, there is a large demand of more than 10,000 jobs that need to be filled in the next five years, so the training courses cannot turn people out fast enough for this fast growing industry.