Microsoft IT Academy certification offered at Camas High School

Helping students be globally competitive

Contributed photo Several ninth-grade students earned PowerPoint certification at Camas High School. They are (from left): LeFore McKinley, Amber Weese, Skyler Wade, Juliana Chau, Matthew Clay, Alec Gantar, William (Isaiah) Ephraim and Val Kovalenko. Not pictured: Talon Edmiston and Bayley Stevenson.

With the goal of helping students thrive in a difficult job climate, Camas High School is offering a pilot program to help them become certified in different Microsoft Office products.

The pilot program is offered through a partnership between Microsoft and the state of Washington. All participating schools receive testing vouchers, which normally cost $100 each.

This year, CHS is offering certification to ninth-grade students as a part of the Freshman Academy, which is a transitional class to help the youngest students adjust to high school.

Since it is a pilot program, this year PowerPoint is being offered, with the goal of expanding it to Excel, Word and Publisher next year, and eventually offer the program to the entire high school.

“Data shows that 91 percent of hiring managers consider certification to be a criteria in their decision,” said Linda Barnes, CHS career and technical education director. “This program is in its infancy stages so we started small, but are hoping to expand our offerings.”

Jenae Langston is a business education and IT Academy teacher at CHS. She said that in the corporate world, having the Microsoft certification is considered very desirable.

“There are really a lot of great benefits to the students having this,” she said. “Just with how competitive the workplace is today, that certification can give them an edge on a job or on a college application.”

Before students are tested for PowerPoint, they focus on different lessons and projects during the semester to familiarize themselves with the product, including practice tests.

“This is a difficult test, but it should reflect the skills they have learned in class,” Langston said. “It definitely helps them out to go over the material in advance of the test. Plus it’s a good experience because it gives them hands-on experience with presentations.”

Due to the challenging nature of the certification exam, Langston’s students were not graded down if they didn’t pass it.

Students who earned the certification are McKinley LeFore, Alec Grantar, Juliana Chau, Talon Edmiston, Skyler Wade, Bayley Stevenson, William Ephraim, Val Kovalenko, Matthew Clay and Amber Weese.

“I got close (to passing) the first time, but came back after school and it seemed easier the second time,” Clay said. “(Now) I will know how to do things (on a computer) faster.”

Kovalenko described the test as challenging but achievable.

“Some questions were difficult, but I have been using a computer for awhile now,” he said. “I knew the basics, but took the Academy and learned more about PowerPoint. I can put this on my resume and it will be easier to get a job and do a job.”