SOCSD and Starkville Utilities Launch Innovative Academic Houses Program

Career-focused curriculum provides SHS students with real-world skills and experience

The Starkville Oktibbeha County School District is teaming with Starkville Utilities on a new program designed to put high school students on an advanced path toward career success.

The Academic Houses at Starkville High School creates a new kind of high school experience through small learning communities with engaging, hands-on opportunities that leverage students’ interests to make school more relevant. Also offered are dual enrollment and advanced placement courses for students pursuing academic diplomas or distinction as AP scholars.

With support from local businesses, the program provides internships, job shadowing, site visits and other opportunities to help strengthen the connection between classroom instruction and real-world experiences.

“We believe a community-based approach that highlights local employers and career opportunities is a great way to prepare the workforce of the future,” said Dr. Eddie Peasant, SOCSD superintendent. “We’ve designed a robust curriculum that addresses modern workforce needs, and ultimately, the involvement of Starkville Utilities and other program partners will be key in creating successful outcomes for graduates.”

Courses are grouped into three houses: Technology, Engineering and Construction; Communications Arts and Business; and Health and Human Service. Starkville Utilities is the lead partner for the TEC house, which encompasses engineering, computer science, manufacturing, logistics, aerospace, unmanned aviation and robotics.

“As the first program partner, we’re excited about this opportunity to provide students with an innovative program that increases their chances for success after graduation,” said Terry Kemp, general manager of Starkville Utilities. “An important part of the Renew Principle is investing in the community, and workforce development is critical in ensuring our students have the resources they need to achieve their career goals.”

The Academic Houses journey begins in ninth grade with Keystone, a college and career readiness course that focuses on the 16 career clusters to help students determine their interests and skills and build a career profile to help them choose an Academic House.

In 10th grade, students are ready to declare an Academic House and begin their chosen learning pathways. Sophomores also participate in coordinated learning experiences through site visits with area employers that match their professional interests, as well as visits to post-secondary colleges and universities.

During their junior year, students can start earning college credits through dual credit/dual enrollment options, as well as specialized certifications and endorsements through career-track coursework. Job shadowing, which allows them to observe and interact with career professionals in the workplace, is an important part of their learning experience.

Seniors have the opportunity for individual work experiences through job internships and may earn the ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate, which measures and certifies essential work skills needed for success in jobs across industries and occupations.

“In addition to helping students build a better future, we see this program as an investment in the future of our industry,” Kemp said. “By serving as a lead partner, we’re helping create a talent pipeline of students who may one day become Starkville Utilities employees. We want them to know that we’re one of many local businesses offering stable, rewarding careers and opportunities for professional growth.”

Learn more about the Academic Houses at Starkville High School at

Starkville Utilities is a public utility serving 14,000 residences, businesses and industries in Starkville, Mississippi as well as Mississippi State University. Its mission is to supply safe, reliable, and cost-effective electric and water service of superior quality and value that improves the lives of its customers.

We are a Water and Electric Utilities Company in Starkville