Eighth Grade Students Tour High School CTE Programs
Many eighth grade students have never stepped foot in our CHCCS high schools, but for the first year, nearly 1,000 of them were able to ride buses to the schools they will attend next year, to explore the Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs available in our high schools. On October 22, eighth graders traveled to Carrboro High School (CHS) and Chapel Hill High School (CHHS), and Phillips Middle School students went to East Chapel Hill High School (ECHHS) on October 30. They toured classrooms, met with CTE ambassadors, learned about technical skills in each program area, CTE clubs, industry credentials and much more. And they were still back at their middle schools for lunch!
Middle school students visited classrooms that included the Academy of Information Technology, Automotive, Firefighting and EMT programs at CHHS, the Adobe Academy, Engineering, Marketing and Fashion Design programs at CHS, and the Biomedical Science, Engineering and culinary labs at ECHHS. They heard presentations by current CTE students at each high school. One eighth grade student said, "Students who spoke at each station were prepared and engaging."
Smith Middle School eighth grade counselor, Steve Young, said, “The kids were actually pretty amazed at the sheer number of offerings they have at the high school level. ..’I can't believe how much stuff they offer.’ I have a number of students who are convinced that they will explore becoming firemen. It's been fun to watch students with no specific career goals come back now wanting to be a surgeon AND an engineer!
Keneisha Jones, counselor at McDougle Middle School, said, “The Career and Technical Education field trip to Chapel Hill High School was an eye opening experience to our eighth graders. Many of our students expressed that they learned about careers and occupations that they had not previously considered as options and were excited about taking some of the courses throughout high school. It was personally rewarding to see our students’ excitement about potential career options, and for kids to see the hands-on application of knowledge within career fields.”
When asked to respond to surveys after the field trips, many eighth grade students cited CTE benefits they had not been aware of: a competitive advantage for college and career preparedness, "fun classes," and learning more about career options when still in high school. ""You get to learn more about what interests you, and it's project-based learning which means you'll gain more from the class," one student wrote in the survey.
Phillips Middle School counselor, Sherry McKinney, said, “Students left excited about enrolling in CTE classes and getting involved in student organizations. I've had several students tell me they're already wondering how they're going to decide between the many options available to them at East.”
Young added, “Seeing what is offered also helped my students become a little less anxious about moving to high school. Having this experience at the high schools does give students a better frame of reference about what to expect and what is available. Many are becoming more convinced that CTE has something to offer them whether or not they might be college bound or getting a job after high school.”