Demopolis Education Center becomes accredited

Published 9:45 am Thursday, May 30, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Blaine Hathcock made a return visit to the Demopolis Rotary Club on May 22 to give an update on the highlights of the Demopolis campus of Wallace Community College.

As campus director, Hathcock has watched it grow from three students to a fall enrollment of 591. The numbers include traditional, adult and dual enrollment students at both the academic campus at the Demopolis High Education Center and at the new technology center located in the former National Guard Armory.

The tech school has been a major addition to the Demopolis site, but Hathcock said another event “is a really big deal for us.” Earlier this year the campus became SAC accredited. Until then students could earn only 49 percent of their credits toward an associate degree. Now they can stay in Demopolis for all their courses.

Email newsletter signup

“It enables people to get things they need to change their lives,” Hathcock said.

Dual enrollment

The Demopolis campus serves Marengo and adjacent counties and 11 high schools. The dual enrollment program is a big asset since students can earn college credits at no cost for tuition, books or other fees. This year Demopolis High School students alone received $379,800 in scholarships, and those coming from other schools also obtained a debt-free education.

Hathcock said students can begin taking courses at WCC their sophomore year in high school. If they continue through three years, at graduation they will have two years of college behind them.

This year a DHS student graduated from WCC with an associate degree and the next week received his high school diploma. 

“Think about taking that much money and putting it back into parents’ pockets,” the director said.

Hathcock said the technical school opened full time in January. “It turned out really well.”

Most popular fields

The 18,000-square-foot facility offers technical training in a variety of fields, but the most popular is welding. The school will expand its welding courses in the fall to accommodate all those who want to take it. Both welding and HVAC courses will be offered this summer. Also being added is an electrical program, and heavy equipment operator training is ongoing.

Another field he expects will be expanded is health care. Already it has conducted a patient care program in conjunction with Whitfield Regional Hospital, along with surgical technician classes. Hathcock sees the program expanding to LPN and RN accreditation, especially when the Alabama School for Healthcare Sciences opens in 2026.

“A lot of things are going on with industry partnerships,” he said.

Looking to the future, Hathcock hopes the school will continue to expand and reach an enrollment of between 750 and 1,000 students.