The criminal justice academy at Escambia High School is one of a kind.

It’s the first of in the entire school system to offer hands-on experience with everything from forensics and down to court reporting.

The goal is for students to see how each area of the criminal justice system works.

“We focus of three perspectives, courts, law enforcement, and corrections,” says instructor Raymond Burch.

Some want to be lawyers, others military and some want to work directly in the field as forensic specialists or private investigators.

The academy provides a realistic experience, so students get a keen view of what the work is like.

“This room is a mock up of a real jail cell,” Burch said, as he guided through the set. “It’s a little bit bigger than a typical jail cell, [so] when we get into the corrections side of the course, we will use this room to simulate and do role playing.”

Students love the hands-on learning environment, as they learn lessons that navigate them through headlines involving police and criminal activity.

“The violence that’s been happening in Chicago — I’ve always wanted to know why do people do it,” said Bria Stallworth, sophomore. “When [Burch] teaches, he breaks down why people go shoot up a whole bunch of people.”

“I have learned so much about the field, about all the different events that correspond to news,” said Mayah Gilbert, sophomore. “I think it’s really cool to be in an academy like this.”

The criminal justice academy is part of a larger network of similar “career academies” throughout the region that allow students to try-out and learn about multiple different career fields.

“We will learn how to conduct ourselves more professionally and that will carry on in the rest of life,” said Seth Zill, sophomore.

Students must apply and be accepted to any of the career academies. For a list of the many academies and more information, visit here.