SEATTLE - This fall, Seattle Public Schools will unveil its new Skills Center, which will offer courses in Aerospace Science, Health Sciences, Digital Animation and Game Programming, and the Cisco/Microsoft IT Academy.

Riley Gish is a senior who attends Center School, where she is able to take an animation class which counts toward graduation. She takes the class at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment, which is located in the same building as the Center School.

I really want to do something I love, and I guess you can't really figure out what it is until you start working with it, said Gish, who wants animation to play a part in her future career.

Dr. Shepherd Siegel, the Career and Technical Education Manager for Seattle Public Schools, said the new Skills Center will allow more students to take classes that could turn into their career.

We see this as drop out prevention. We see it as dropout retrieval, but mainly we see it as advanced career and technical education that connects kids to higher education and great careers, said Siegel.

Professor Christopher Erhardt runs the Academy of Interactive Entertainment. Students will be able to learn how to make video games and animation this fall.

I saw it as a no brainer because the economy changed in 2008, and we have to be realistic about that. Now what people want is when you go get a job, they want to know that you have the skills they want and they need right now, said Erhardt.

Students who are accepted to the program will not pay any additional cost, according to Siegel. Students would attend traditional classes at their assigned high school in the morning, then after lunch they would travel to their Skills Center course. Siegel said bus fare would be covered.

Applications for the Skills Center are being accepted now for students age 16 and up.

To learn more about the courses and where they will happen this fall, go to the Seattle Public Schools Skills Center web page.

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