some text Leah Ann Powell, a senior financial analyst at Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Hillacy Williams, a billing coordinator at Unum, paint over blue walls at Brainerd High School Friday, June 21, 2019 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Classrooms were painted earlier in the week.

Brainerd High to reveal summer renovations at open house

Brainerd High School will host an event celebrating this summer's makeover of the school building. Brainerd Together was a year-long collaboration between the Brainerd High School National Alumni Association, Hamilton County Schools and dozens of business and community partners.

More than 200 volunteers worked full-time for a week in June to strip walls of old paint, repaint, lay flooring and clean dozens of rooms. Multiple business adopted individual classrooms for spaces such as the school's aviation classroom and the football and basketball team locker rooms for total makeovers.

The project will culminate with an open house, the "Brainerd Together: A Community Remodel" building reveal, 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 4 at the school, located at 1020 North Moore Road.

"This reveal is a true testament to the Greater Hamilton County Communities commitment to education. I am proud to display the hard work of our volunteers and business partners who have made these renovations possible for Brainerd students," Brainerd Principal Christopher James said in a statement.

Hamilton County students earned 224 certifications in 2019

The number of students earning an industry certification more than tripled from 2018 to 2019, with 224 earned this year by high school students, according to Hamilton County Schools. Industry certifications allow graduates to leave high school with a certification for a job skill in a particular career field.

During the 2016-17 school year, students from only five schools earned 48 certifications. In 2017-2018, students from the same five schools earned 61 certifications.

During the most recent school year, students from 11 schools across the county earned more than 200 certifications, thanks to the district's focus on increasing student access to early post-secondary opportunities and advanced coursework.

"We want to make sure our graduates are prepared for success after high school and that we provide them opportunities to leave school with a plan for their future with access to these programs," said Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools, in a statement. "A major priority of our strategic plan is to provide access to advanced courses, dual enrollment options, and industry certifications and it is an area of investment in the proposed budget for next school year."

Marie Holland, a 2019 graduate of Sequoyah High, was one such student. Holland was the only female student in her welding class but by the time she left high school, she had a job offer in hand from Heatec, a local company that manufactures and markets heaters and liquid storage tanks.

"Welding stood out to me because I was looking for something that I would enjoy for a career," said Holland in a statement. "I want to enjoy where I work and what I do because if you do not enjoy what you do, it is work to you."

Signal Mountain graduate receives prestigious scholarship from Volkswagen

Aileen Santelmann, a recent graduate from Signal Mountain Middle/High School, received a Duales Studium scholarship from Volkswagen in Germany. The scholarship is a dual study program that allows Santelmann to earn her degree while also working for Volkswagen. Only two people from Germany received the scholarship this year.

Santelmann moved to the United States from Germany when she was 14 years old. She graduated from Signal Mountain with a 3.933 GPA and received an International Baccalaureate diploma.

She plans to attend college at Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg in Mannheim and Madrid, where she will study International Business. Her career goals are to pursue a career in personnel management and marketing. Santelmann will work at the Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge plant in Hannover and also at a Volkswagen location in Poland.

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