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Banner Year for Industry Certifications in CHS Information Technology Program

            The Cleburne High School Information Technology program recorded a banner finish to the school year with 26 students achieving industry-level certifications.

            This was the second highest number of students to go into the “CHS IT Hall of Fame” established by Career and Technical Education teacher Dewayne Hawpe to recognize the achievements of those in his program.

            “One hundred percent of students in our technician class passed the TestOut PC Pro certification exam,” Hawpe said. “The same percentage was achieved by students taking the TestOut Network Pro exam. We had eight technicians pass the CompTIA A+ certification and one of our graduating seniors passed the exam to receive the CompTIA Network+ certification. Several of these students achieved multiple certifications.”

            “In attaining an industry certification, it verifies that the technician is proficient in the knowledge and skills necessary to meet the industry standard,” Hawpe said. “For example, the TestOut Pro certification verifies the IT professional can install, repair, configure, secure and manage computer hardware, operating systems and software in home or corporate environments.”

            The TestOut Network Pro certification reflects skills and expertise in management of hardware and software networking components, from the set-up of wireless and wired networks to basic security, upgrades and network protocols.

            “The Computing Technology Industry Association is the leading provider of vendor-neutral IT certifications worldwide,” Hawpe said. “The CompTIA certifications have global recognition and require two rigorous exams that test for comprehension and skill. These credentials show our students have the knowledge, skills and abilities required for the IT field and industry. These students have been working and preparing for these certifications since they entered our program. Achievement of the CompTIA certifications is the reflection of two years of focused learning, work and study.”

            2019 graduate Ben Chandler led the list of IT Hall of Fame honorees in achieving all four certifications in his senior year. He is only the second CHS student to pass both CompTIA A+ exams in the same year.  Obtaining the string of certifications was a goal he set as he began his final year of high school.

            “I set a goal this year to get the CompTIA A+ certification, with achieving the Network+ as the icing on the cake,” Chandler said. “I want a job with good security, that will pay well and all these certifications will help with that. I would really like to work for myself or contract through a company.”

            Chandler is quick to admit his passion for technology, and the many facets within the world of IT.

            “I would say I’m a techie,” he said. “I spend a lot of time with computer games and on my computer. I guess if you put a time stamp on it, I became serious about computers in junior high. I began with gaming, then developed an interest in wanting to know ‘how does it work?’”

            “When my sister went to college, she got a Toshiba computer,” he said. “I would mess with it and began learning how to work it. That really opened the technology door for me.”

            Chandler had planned to pursue welding in high school, due to the number and variety of jobs requiring the skill.

            “But I also took a computer programming class because I knew I wanted to do something with computers, maybe in technology and maintenance,” he said. “I wanted to take programming first because I really had no idea of what was out there, beyond that.”

            That class was followed by computer maintenance and Chandler knew then he had found his niche—and calling.

            “I loved it,” he said. “I realized I could do something with computer maintenance and was good at it. Every time I put a computer together it’s like a puzzle. I like that. In preparing for the certification exams, I chose to look at them as rock walls that had to be scaled.”

            Hawpe said the goals set by Chandler were a tall order and his success is a demonstration of his abilities, and his dedication.

            “Ben is a highly intelligent, highly motivated student,” Hawpe said. “His standards are very high. He took the computer technician and networking classes concurrently, which is tough to do. Even tougher, he passed all certification exams. It was a truly impressive performance, in that he passed all the exams on the first try.”

            “Ben likes the upper level thinking and problem solving of computer maintenance,” Hawpe said. “As the technician, you have to determine what caused the problem and while that requires knowledge and skill, it also requires patience.”

            “I feel like we create skilled technicians in this program, not programmed robots,” Hawpe said. “I have my students do research to find the answers themselves, rather than giving the information to them.”

            Chandler agrees that patience is a virtue for those choosing IT as a career.

            “It definitely requires patience for a lot that I do,” he said. “Having a good foundation really helps. You have to conceptualize. It’s really easier if you have a wiring schematic in your head. It’s also important to know when to step away, then come back when you have thought the maintenance or programming problem through.”

            Chandler has followed his own advice, in stepping away from the computer to do other things. He was a four-year competitor on the Jackets tennis team and also played French horn in band for a period of time. He recently achieved the level of Eagle Scout, completing a project for TEAM School, where his mother, Lisa, teaches science. Chandler built a series of wooden garden boxes to be used in establishing a garden at TEAM School, where students will be engaged in biology and environmental science activities.

            He also had the opportunity to put his skills to work at the start of the school year when students first occupied the new science and Career and Technical Education classrooms and labs at the new CHS. Chandler was among the IT student techs chosen to assist with the task of setting up classroom computers and installing wiring for classroom phones.

            “It was fun to be able to help with that,” he said. “Having that hands-on experience and getting to do what you’ve learned about was great. It affirmed that this is what I want to do.”

            Chandler is now moving on to the next level in his educational journey, as a student at The University of Texas at Dallas. He will also be putting his certifications to work, as he will be among the UTD students staffing the school’s Mobile Help Desk.

            “My plan is to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in business information technology,” he said. “My main future goal is to learn more about programming and website development, and hopefully land some internships. I’m still thinking, too, about owning my own business.”

            Mike Wallace, CISD executive director of technology, said the record number of certifications Chandler and his fellow technicians have achieved this year will definitely provide a head start in moving on to their next level of study or directly into the workplace.

            “Kids with the know-how and skills to achieve these certifications will have the ability to get an interview with any business or company they choose, by having them on their resume,” Wallace said. “Our high school has a great IT program. Mr. Hawpe really motivates the kids to achieve these certifications, which are the same as adult workers in the industry have, or are seeking. The students really love him. You can tell he makes it fun to learn in his program. He cares about kids and he likes teaching them. He is definitely making a difference in their lives.”

            Hawpe believes he will eventually add Chandler, and other IT Hall of Fame inductees, to his growing list of Cleburne graduates now at work in the technology industry.

            “The first student who achieved our IT Hall of Fame is now working at Facebook,” he said. “We have graduates employed in the technology departments at Lighthouse for the Blind, Texas Tech University, Cleburne ISD and Hill College.”

            “When you teach courses like these, you want to do your best--you want your students to have a future,” Hawpe said. “This is my seventh year at CHS and it has been so exciting and rewarding to see the results of our IT program and how it is impacting our graduates.”

            Cleburne students achieving the TestOut PC Pro Certification also included Joe Aguilar, Nathaniel Butsch, Nathan Barnes, Coleman Barney, Mardo Belmares, Luke Galan, Jonas Goodgion, Trent Granger, Eduardo Gutierrez, Laine Hollis, Robinson Jack, Mary Margaret Johnson, John Paul Nguyen, Rene Ozuna, Javier Reyes, Colton Senior, Chesney Stephenson and Cameron Watson; TestOut Network Pro Certification-Trent Granger, Keagan Lively, Augustin Peña, Joseph Pengelly, Erick Perez-Navarrete, Rena Ozuna, Juan Pioquinto, Dason Poling; CompTIA A+ Certification-Mardo Belmares, Jacob Bingham, Luke Galan, Trent Granger, Laine Hollis, Erick Perez-Navarrete, Cameron Watson.



 These students were among those named to the 2019 CHS Information Technology Hall of Fame for achieving the TestOut PC Pro and/or TestOut Network Pro Certifications. Pictured front, l-r, Keagan Lively, John Paul Nguyen, Robinson Jack, Mary Margaret Johnson, Dason Poling, Colton Senior and back from left, Javier Reyes, Chesney Stephenson, Joe Aguilar, Nathan Barnes, Jonas Goodgion, Nathaniel Butsch.