By Eduardo Barraza
February 1, 2017
(Gilbert, AZ) –– Eight grade students attending Gilbert Public Schools are getting ready to transition into high school, and they are learning that the next four years are full of possibilities.
Eighth graders from Mesquite Junior High School this Tuesday had a glimpse into their academic future as they visited Mesquite High School, where they got a sneak preview of Career and Technical Education, or CTE, available at all Gilbert’s high schools.
Mesquite High faculty and students played a key and enthusiastic role, serving as experts in their CTE fields and tour guides, respectively.
This was not an educational fair where typically attendants visit informational booths. Instead, organizers took the 8th graders straight into the classrooms and shops where CTE classes are taught.
In their CTE class setting, teachers provided express informational sessions, visual demonstrations and brief hands-on experience.
Eighth grade students also had a chance to see and use some of the impressive and state-of-the-art technology and equipment used in everyday instruction of CTE programs, which they were unaware of.
“I’ve talked to students from 8th grade today asking them about their experience, and they said, ‘I didn’t realize that the high school has these unique programs that we can take’,” said Ken Fetter, Mesquite High School Principal.
The event, the first of its kind, was a joint effort between both schools and spearheaded by Gilbert’s CTE department.
“This is our very first year of doing this event, and it’s been a huge success,” said Fetter. “It allows our incoming 8th graders to be exposed to many of the programs that we have in this campus, particularly in the CTE area.”
Thirteen groups of junior high students followed a rotation in a synchronized route around Mesquite High’s building. High school students, who also provided feedback and their own CTE experience, lead them across the campus.
The importance of CTE programs
According to Doug Daley, Director of Career and Technical Education at Gilbert, events like this provide junior high school students with the opportunity to learn about potential course and program offerings that fit their interest and future college and career plans.
CTE classes offer a variety of career and occupational choices that can spell employability for high school kids after graduating, and help them attain college credits prior to earning their diplomas.
“Career and Technical Education programs prepare students for college and career readiness with the academic and workforce skills needed to enter and compete successfully in the job market,” said Daley.
The CTE programs are similar to others taught at local community colleges –like Gilbert-Chandler Community College– so high school students can be earning credits toward a college degree.
Brandon Audia, a Mesquite Junior High student, was among the dozens of 8th grade students who attended the CTE event. The experience helped him grasp the relation between what CTE offers and his future.
“I learned that there’s a ton of opportunities for ways to make jobs and my future life easier, and that any classes that I take can potentially help me in life.”
The Yearbook class, part of the Graphic Communications and Journalism class at Mesquite High –a CTE program– caught Audia’s eye immediately. During a demonstration of the class, the 8th grader had an opportunity to hold a professional camera for photography equipped with a wide-angle lens.
His direct exposure to this class prompted Audia to begin thinking about classes he can take when he registers for high school for the 2017-18 school year.
“I think I would take the Yearbook class; I think it’ll be a good thing for me to do,” said Audia.
Junior high students like Audia were not the only people impressed with the CTE programs at Mesquite High.
“They’re doing some really cool stuff here at the high school level! I didn’t know that they did like computer programming and gaming,” said Renee Vigil, a Social Studies teacher at Mesquite Junior, who also attended the event. “I come to find out they are offering a lot of classes that actually will help prepare kids for the future, which I think is important and fantastic,” added Vigil.
Both faculty and students seemed to agree the CTE event helped stimulate the imagination by providing 8th graders with a real-life and fun experience to make informed decisions when choosing CTE classes.
“I think it’s a really good introduction to see what the high school offers,” said Vigil. “This right now sparks their interest, and they know what they are getting into in high school, and I think it can help them plan for the future as well.”
CTE classes available at Gilbert’s include Agriculture Education, Broadcasting and Video Production, Business and Technology, Cabinet Making and Woods, Culinary, Digital Photo, Early Childhood, Game Development, Graphic Communications and Journalism, Marketing, Project Lead the Way, Sports Medicine and Technical Theatre.
For more information visit: http://bit.ly/2ksIaro or call (480) 545-2127