Hixson High School's future-ready business institute has been rebranded to the Coca-Cola Business Institute following the company's $250,000 commitment to the program over the next five years.
District and Coca-Cola Bottling Company United officials announced the partnership Thursday at Hixson High School and held a signing ceremony for the agreement.
"Our branded partnership with Coca-Cola brings opportunities never before available to the Hixson business program, and we're beyond excited about this future, " business education teacher Jill Moses said at the event.
Moses said those opportunities include direct access to Coca-Cola professionals and job opportunities, classrooms and lessons designed to mimic real-world experiences and opportunities to attend conferences.
Future-ready institutes are schools within a school that provide programs of study in a variety of fields. Some institutes prepare students with credentials to enter the workforce straight out of high school, while others offer post-secondary education credits.
To become a branded partner, an organization must commit, at least, $50,000 a year for five years.
"It's exciting because it's a brand new partner that is local," Superintendent Justin Robertson said. "When you think about Chattanooga, one of the first things that come to mind for me in terms of business is Coca-Cola."
Students in the program spoke about opportunities they've already had and said they look forward to more.
"One example of leadership that we have here in Hixson is running our own business and traveling to conventions," Sarah Brotton, a junior and vice president of Hixson High's Future Business Leaders of America club, said at the event. "It's 100% student-run, and we create promotional banners for customers, like individuals and companies, around the community. We learn vital skills like communicating with customers and creating inventory sheets for our clients."
The program also offers students the chance to become certified in software applications like Adobe InDesign and Microsoft PowerPoint.
Coca-Cola Bottling Company United is based in Birmingham, a franchise of the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. Darren Hodges, Tennessee Valley division director for the bottler, said the goal of the partnership was not to redo what the institute was already doing but to enhance it.
"We thought coming in, we might be starting from the ground up," Hodges said in an interview following the event. "That couldn't be further from the truth."
He added that the most significant benefit for students will be access to professionals.
"We'll be involved with the students," Hodges said. "Students will come be a part of our facilities. We will have them in meetings that we can host from time to time."
Hixson High School also houses the Institute of Advanced Agriculture, Food, Natural Resources & Technology and the CHI Memorial Institute of Healthcare & Medical Career.