KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A new initiative at Knox County Schools aims to transform the high school experience. 

The 865 Academies encourages students to explore career pathways connected to their interests. 

“That gives them a better opportunity to get experience in the fields that they are interested in before they go to college,” said Casper Balch, a rising senior at Fulton High School. 

The 865 Academies initiate is being launched in seven high schools this year, including Fulton High School. On Friday, incoming freshmen learned about the different academy pathways at orientation. Students can choose from health sciences, public services, communications, and skilled professions.

“I’m excited they are engaging in new ways,” said Kensey Zimmerman, the Academy Coach at Fulton High School. 

Zimmerman says the first step in the process is Freshman Academy, which gives students the opportunity to be well known. 

“When you have a small group of teachers that are connecting with you on a daily basis for your Freshman Academy it allows students to not fall through the cracks,” said Zimmerman. 

Their teachers help them select an academy pathway for grades 10-12. Their classes will be combined with learning experiences that bring business and community partners into the school. 

“What this academy model is going to be able to allow us to do is get them connected in a way that’s relevant, that provides relevance for students because they can see, oh well if he can do that, I can do that,” said Zimmerman. 

The redesign of the high school begins with this year’s rising 9th graders.

Upperclassmen are passing on some words of wisdom to the freshmen as they start the next chapter. 

“It may seem like a big school but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be fine, so just carry on, push through, let your teachers help you, pay attention, be patient and I’m sure you will find your way,” said Balch. 

Schools in the first cohort of The 865 Academies are Austin-East, Bearden, Central, Farragut, Fulton, Hardin Valley and Karns.