California High School Prepares Tomorrow's CCTV Workforce

Cameras roll while we work, drive and shop. Some of us use video cameras to monitor our children, baby sitters and pets.

Nationwide, more than 2 million video surveillance systems are operating, fueling a booming industry that needs more workers. Duncan Polytechnical High School in Fresno can help with that.

The campus this year began offering a class in video security design, becoming the first high school in the country to devote a course to the technology, said Valerie Vuicich, administrator of the Regional Occupation Program in the Fresno County Office of Education.

"We couldn't find a course like this anywhere," Vuicich said. "This was pretty cutting-edge."

Educators invited visitors to listen in on the class Thursday as they announced that the occupation program would offer similar classes next year at Clovis East, Hoover and Riverdale high schools.

"There's a tremendous number of opportunities opening up because of 9/11 and all the security issues," said Douglas Urabe, who teaches the class at Duncan.

The school offers the course to seniors who took a class in computer maintenance and repair in their junior year. The course provides training recognized and valued by many high-tech employers.

The class is a foundation for students interested in the video surveillance field, whether they're installing cameras right out of high school or completing college and becoming an architect who designs security systems, said Agustin "J.R." Correa, a trainer for Pelco.

Pelco, with headquarters in Clovis, is one of the world's leading designers and manufacturers of video security systems. The company teamed with the Regional Occupation Program and Duncan to develop the class, training Urabe in the technology so he, in turn, could teach students.

Pelco also provides guest speakers, teachers and equipment for students to learn on.

Correa was the first to push for the class. Before working at Pelco, he was a Regional Occupation Program teacher at Fowler High School and had done his teacher-training at Duncan.

Students said the course not only offered an intriguing look at new technology in video security systems, but useful information on how a successful business operates.

Senior Xavier Ortiz said he's learned that a good company "sells the service, not the product."

Junior Tena Dorn said she's not sure whether she wants to go into the field, but likes the challenge of the class and the fact that it's cutting-edge technology.