AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — After Wednesday’s ribbon cutting and official open house for the AmTech Career Academy, Jay Barrett, AmTech’s principal, said Wednesday’s festivities were a dream come true.

“What this day means to me is a culmination of a dream, of a vision that we’ve had in Amarillo ISD for more years than I can count, about what we need to do for the future of education,” he said.

What the Amarillo Independent School District sees as the future of education was on full display for members of the community Wednesday with an official ribbon cutting and open house. This was the final step after the years-long process of transforming the old Hastings distribution center into the AmTech Career Academy.

According to previous reports from MyHighPlains.com, students began taking classes at the career academy in the Fall of 2021, with the remainder of the facility opening earlier this year. Students are able to follow 30 different pathways in nine schools within the academy.

After officials participated in the ribbon-cutting, students and teachers from the academy got the chance to showcase what goes on in classes on a day-to-day basis, according to a news release from the district. Community members saw various parts of the academy in action, including the academy’s aerospace engineering flight simulation, the culinary arts restaurant-style kitchen space as well as a law enforcement virtual reality simulator.

Amarillo ISD Superintendent Doug Loomis said the state-of-the-art facility has a niche for every student, giving them the opportunity to develop skills they can take into the workforce or into higher education after graduation.

“This is the very best of Amarillo. (In) my entire 35 years, people have said ‘when are we going to start training kids so they have skills where they can stay in Amarillo?’ And, this facility does that,” Loomis said. “I am so proud of this facility. It is a facility that started with the community. It was the very best of the community. The community asked us ‘will you create pathways so we can sustain our businesses?’ They are going to get to see those… I’m so very very proud of what we’ve been able to put together and the opportunities that our kids are going to have.”

As officials toured other facilities trying to envision AmTech, Loomis said other school officials warned Amarillo ISD of how the addition of a career academy could be slow to start until it catches on. However, Loomis said the opposite happened to AmTech, not only on a local basis but statewide and nationally.

“Kids are finding interest and so just in a couple of years, kids who graduate really are going to find a place in the workforce to earn a living wage and a place in our community,” Loomis said.

Having a number of community members out on AmTech’s campus during Wednesday’s open house meant a lot to Barrett. He said the community’s support shows how the future is bright not only for AmTech as a facility but for the students who go through the academy.

“It’s almost like the community is wrapping their arms around our school and around our young professionals,” Barrett said. “It’s so heartwarming to know that we have such support here in Amarillo, Texas.”

For more information about the AmTech Career Academy, visit the academy’s website.