On Sept. 5, 2017, 23 three students from Amistad, Shadow Hills, Indio, La Quinta, and Palm Desert high schools gathered at Amistad for their first college co-enrollment course. These students are members of the first cohort for the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) program offered by College of the Desert taught by Daniel Benke, an instructor from COD. There is no cost to participating Desert Sands students.

The new classes run Monday to Friday from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Amistad. Transportation for DSUSD students is provided on a limited basis through a combined effort with Amistad CTE (Career Technical Education) Automotive Technology pathway. College of the Desert has positioned a fully equipped mobile HVAC lab on the Amistad campus. It is loaded with equipment that assists in the hands-on instruction in the course.

By the end of the 2017-18 school year, participating students will have earned up to 12 college units and 20 high school elective credits. These courses represent the first steps towards earning an industry-recognized HVAC certificate designed to address the anticipated 34% growth in HVAC careers in Riverside County.

Other areas students will be able to pursue certification in include the COD Energy Certificate Programs such as Building Automation Control, Residential Solar, and Zero Net Energy Technology.

Amistad High School is proud to partner with College of the Desert to offer both DSUSD and COD students this opportunity. Currently, high school counselors throughout the district are registering students for the 2018-2019 school year in both the HVAC program and the CTE automotive technology at Amistad.

Robert, an HVAC Amistad student, shared, “This class is a hands-on class based on a career that  interests me.” Another HVAC student, David added, “The class incorporates math and science and hands-on skills that employers want.” Britney, a Shadow Hills High student feels fortunate to have the opportunity to be a member of this class at Amistad which allows her to explore a career of interest.

Daniel Benke, the instructor, added that a sixteen member community college cohort will be using the COD curriculum including the “higher technology” part of the trade. He also commented that although the work in class is challenging, the students use collaboration and communication to solve the problems.

Mr. Benke gave accolades to Dr. Michelle Bleza, COD administrator, Deanna Keuilian, DSUSD CTE Administrator, and David  Gustafson, Amistad principal for all of their work to make this co-enrollment class a reality.