Still advancing

HARLINGEN — They worked hard for their certifications.

Trade students wondered what would happen when the Harlingen school district responded to COVID-19 by closing campuses. Some, like welding students, have to perform hands-on tasks to achieve their certification. Others, like those in health professions, already had their practicum out of the way.

Would they get to take their final exams?

The answer was yes. Last week, dozens of students seeking certification in such fields as certified medical assistant and certified veterinarian assistant took their tests.

“I’m glad that I got to take the test under the circumstances,” said Haley Cano, 17, who’d just passed her test for CMA.

“It’s pretty hard not being able to study in school,” she conceded. “Being home really isn’t the best motivator but it did take hard work.”

The district put a great deal of effort into accommodating trade students needing their final exams. Just days before their virtual graduation last week, they gathered at the school district annex to take their exams in real time — with masks, of course.

“It’s great that in the situation we’re in right now that we can have the ability to make arrangements for students and that’s a plus for them,” said Raul Alvarez, director of career and technology education for the Harlingen school district.

“These are difficult times for everyone, these are difficult times for the kids,” Alvarez said. “For us to be able to allow them to attempt to get a certification, which is something they have worked on over their junior and senior years, it’s great.”

Alyssa Morales was able to complete her training as a certified veterinarian assistant. She spoke with gratitude about the daily Zoom meetings she had with her instructor to prepare.

“We would go through a bunch of different work assignments dealing with what we knew and it all led up to the day,” said Alyssa, 18, a Harlingen High School senior.

She, like the other trade students, appreciated the diligence of the district to give them their exams. Still, they would have preferred the face to face version opposed to online.

“I would have preferred doing it in a classroom in person with her,” she said. “It would have made it a lot easier. I like being with the teacher, I feel like I’m better prepared for stuff, I pay attention more.”