CTE Hosts Awards Recognition Celebration
The theme for the 13th annual Career and Technical Education (CTE) Awards Recognition Ceremony this year was “Celebrate Today, Own Tomorrow,” and during the student-led event at East Chapel Hill High School (ECHHS) on May 22, hundreds of students and parents honored CTE accomplishments, even as they looked squarely at their futures in engineering, biomedical sciences, firefighting and cybersecurity, as well as many others career paths. The cafe commons was decorated and filled to capacity, many attendees dressed in their “red carpet best.” The ceremony itself began after a delicious buffet meal prepared by Michael Holman’s Foods I and II students at ECHHS, and the dapper masters of ceremonies, Amr Moussa and Tarun Goyal, kicked off the presentations in style.
Goyal is representative of the deep and enthusiastic commitment to the CTE pathway in engineering. He said, "The Project Lead the Way (PLTW) engineering department at East, and specifically its world-class teachers, are a major reason why I'm interested in engineering. Not only did they show me all the opportunities and facets engineering holds, but they introduced me to things like the FIRST Robotics team, and the Technology Student Association (TSA), which have developed me as a leader and an engineer." Goyal is bound for Georgia Tech next year, planning to study mechanical engineering.
The evening’s recognitions opened with more than 100 National Technical Honor Society seniors from the district. Next up was Bobby Boening, firefighter instructor at Chapel Hill High School (CHHS), who presented firefighter awards and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) pins. Chapel Hill Fire Chief Matt Sullivan and Assistant Fire Chief Keith Porterfield presented the inaugural class of seniors with a “Protectors of the Tar Heels” coin. Graduates of the firefighting academy are prepared for immediate employment and have completed several credits towards their fire protection associate degree.
Next came the recognitions of the many first place awards to Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs). CTSO’s are national student groups designed to extend learning through inventive business and community partnerships, as well as offer opportunities to compete at state and national levels. They include DECA (marketing), Future Business Leaders of America and SkillsUSA (trade and industrial education).
The ability to earn industry certifications is one of the less-known benefits of pursuing a concentration in a CTE pathway. These certifications testify to students’ preparedness for immediate employment in a globally competitive field, and provide a clear platform to stand out among other job applicants. Dozens of students from all four high schools were recognized for achieving certification in CompTIA Security, EverFi Financial Literacy, Adobe InDesigin and ServSafe, among other areas.
Beth Landis, Adobe teacher at Carrboro High School (CHS) said, “With earned Adobe certifications, students also receive badging opportunities from Adobe. They can add these badges to their social media accounts. This can be particularly useful on social media professional sites like Linked-In, where credentials like these might land them better career and internship opportunities. Students visibly express lots of excitement and joy the moment they submit their responses and find out that they have passed their certification. This breeds a whole new level of confidence for them.”
The largest number of student recognitions came at the end of the program, when CTE Concentrators’ names were called. Concentrator achievement means that students have completed a full pathway of courses in areas from Game Development to Cisco Computer Engineering. Bill Vincent, PLTW Engineering teacher at ECHHS, said, “CTE courses are electives. Students may take the first course for a variety of reasons but they come back because the pathway sparks and interest or kindles a passion. These courses are the most direct connection our students have to relevant careers, providing an opportunity for students to explore different careers. This is part of the appeal and the evidence of the success is the growth of the concentrators.”
As high school students look ahead toward college or careers, completing a four course CTE concentration provides a clear “light at the end of the tunnel,” a more distinct and predictable future than most other students might attain by graduation. This year, the CTE program has increased its numbers of concentrators by 8%.
Jennifer Walker, Cisco Network Academy teacher at CHHS, said, “Due to the nature of our CTE programs, students have many opportunities to apply the skills they have learned outside the classroom. The CTE Awards ceremony is an evening to recognize these accomplishments of our CTE students. From industry certifications to state level CTSO winners, high achieving WorkKeys scores and our NTHS members, our students shine during this event! I am thankful to our CTE Director, Kathi Breweur, and the CTE Awards ceremony committee for all the time and effort they put into this event. In addition to celebrating successes, the program is also designed to give the students another opportunity to apply their professional skills. The event incorporates students into every aspect of the evening - food, decorations, speakers, and more. The event makes my teacher heart happy in so many ways!”
Director of CTE, Kathi Breweur, said, “I look forward to this event every year as we celebrate the stellar performance of our CTE students and staff. My favorite part of the program is when the students go to the microphone to share their plans after high school. It reiterates for me that CTE has helped our students find their passion and they are leaving us with a plan whether it’s attending a 2 year or 4 year college program with a focus/purpose, entering the military or being employed in a chosen career field like a firefighter or EMT.”