REDMOND, Ore. - As high school seniors participate in “signing day” celebrations nationwide, Central Oregon’s High Desert Education Service District is reaching beyond the traditional college and athletic signing ceremonies to include students embarking on careers and trade school journeys after high school.
This week, 13 Central Oregon high school seniors from Crook County, La Pine, Madras, Mountain View and Summit signed letters of commitment to begin training for skilled trades.
“There are so many exceptional students who are graduating from high school and moving on to trade schools and lucrative careers and we want to make sure we’re celebrating their success,” said Brook Rich, director of CTE (Career and Technical Education) and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) for HDESD.
“The pathways to successful careers are much more diverse than people tend to recognize. Central Oregon high schools are offering amazing Career and Technical Education programs that are inspiring and supporting students as they explore options other than college.”
According to Rich, there are 7,830 students enrolled in one of Central Oregon’s 81 CTE programs. Another 48,259 students are enrolled in high school level CTE programs throughout the state of Oregon.
“It’s remarkable to see the impact of these programs,” Rich added. “Graduation rates of students earning one credit or more in CTE programs is 90%. The statewide graduation rate is 74%.”
Logan Timmons, a senior at La Pine High School, signed with University of Northwestern Ohio to pursue training in the high performance automobile industry.
“I’ve always loved to learn how to make things go faster. Early on I knew I liked learning how things worked, taking them apart and putting them back together,” Timmons said. “The CTE programs give me an opportunity to work with my hands, to have fun while I learn, and have a career where I can do both.”
Summit High School senior Linnea Khampeth signed with Central Oregon Community College to study manufacturing and applied technology.
“I’ve always liked being hands-on, but being new to this school this year, I didn’t have a chance to take CTE classes here. I’m happy to have found the MATC program at COCC; it provides me an opportunity to learn skills that I can take to an apprenticeship with UA Local 290,” Khampeth said. “We moved here from California. Oregon definitely broadens your range for career classes.”
Owen Arreola, a senior at Madras High School, signed with Central Oregon Community College to study manufacturing and applied technology.
“In my CTE classes here, we did projects to benefit the community; I’m most excited to have a job where I can own my own shop, help out my family, and continue to do work that helps the community we live in,” Arreola said.
Sydney Williams, a Summit High School senior, signed with Paul Mitchell School in Portland.
“I’ve always been interested in the arts, and knew that the college environment wasn’t for me. This choice gives me a hands-on learning experience, and a career with creative freedom,” Williams said. “I’m looking forward to a fun career that gives not only me, but also clients I work with, the opportunity to express themselves.”
Ben Anderson, who teaches manufacturing at Madras High School, explained that CTE classes at the high school level are important to give students a taste of what these high-demand jobs might look like.
“This is why we do what we do. This is the fruit of our labor, seeing students pursuing education for trades that are in high demand,” Anderson said. “Both the automotive and welding industry produce excellent paying jobs with many opportunities for advancement. Our goal is to give students knowledge of the trades and hopefully, a lot of interest in pursuing them."
"College is not for everyone, giving students the ability to see that they can be successful with or without a college degree brings hope to students,” he added.
For more information about HDESD’s CTE program, visit http://www.hdesd.org/services/career-and-technical-education/.