CLAY COUNTY, Fla. -- Tuesday marked the first day of school for Clay County students and teachers. There are roughly 35,000 students enrolled, according to the school district.
This year, students will have more flexibility over the classes they take, thanks to a new program called 'Academies of Clay'. This new teaching strategy allows students, primarily freshmen, to take classes in career-themed areas.
Kara Rodgers is a freshman at Middleburg High School. She enrolled in the medical academy, because she wants to be a marine biologist. She's excited to take classes based around her interests.
"I actually want to be here, so it's really nice," she said.
The core classes like math and English haven't changed, but the way teachers present the material has.
Students will learn to read, write and do mathematical problems based on the particular theme they choose.
Cody Miller wants to be an architect one day. He says his career-themed classes keep him interested in the learning material, no matter what it is.
"I feel I'm happy when I walk into the classroom because I know I'm doing something I love and it's really fun to do," he said.
Last year, the graduation rate in Clay County was 78 percent.
Teachers said they're hopeful the new approach, which is being used in school districts nationwide, will keep these students engaged long enough to get their diplomas.
"They can't wait for the next project. We so have to mix it in with some book things and some learning that doesn't get to run free, but for the most part, they can't wait to create a project," said TV Production teacher Kim Lanoux.
Students will also be given to opportunity to changes academies along the way if their interests change.