Changing spark plugs and giving facials might one day become part of course offerings at some Columbia County high schools.
Online student surveys recently conducted at the county's four high schools showed a strong interest in providing more tech-prep classes.
For Lakeside and Greenbrier high schools, the survey results could mean the addition of automotive and cosmetology labs in the next few years.
"At Lakeside and Greenbrier, the top two choices on their surveys were transportation and cosmetology," Columbia County schools Superintendent Tommy Price said. "Both of those require rather extensive labs, which means new construction."
The school board decided in a recent meeting to add the labs to the system's capital outlay plan, an outline of construction needs for the school system.
The labs likely would be put in a two-story building, with automotive taking the first floor and cosmetology on the top, Mr. Price said.
Although the likelihood is high that the labs will get built, it could take a few years, Mr. Price said.
"Those aren't top priorities right now," he said. "We've got to make these secondary to new schools, considering the accelerated growth cycle we're in."
The labs are long overdue, said Lakeside High Principal Jeff Carney.
As the county's population grows, Lakeside High's demographics are changing. More students are interested in career-oriented courses, Mr. Carney said.
"We need these course offerings," he said. "We've got to give them something to get them interested in coming to school. That's what they need to be successful in high school."
Of the 954 students surveyed at Lakeside, 31.2 percent wanted automotive repair as a course offering.
Cosmetology classes were the second most popular, garnering 27.5 percent of the vote.
Cosmetology and automotive were the first and second choices, respectively, of students surveyed at Greenbrier High as well, according to a school system internal memo.
The same memo also stated that cosmetology was the most popular choice of Evans High students.
Some school board members recently questioned whether jobs were available for students with a cosmetology background, but Michael Canady, the system's director for career technology education, said cosmetology is a growing industry.
According to his research, personal appearance workers held nearly 800,000 jobs in the U.S. in 2004.
Any career-technology offerings at schools, whether it be transportation or cosmetology, are beginning to interest a growing segment of the county's student population, Mr. Canady said.
Reach Donnie Fetter at 868-1222, ext. 113, or firstname.lastname@example.org.