Carson students build real world foundations |

Carson students build real world foundations

Teri Vance
Shannon Litz/Nevada AppealCarson High School senior Kathleen Bryant paints sophomore Kelly Cherrera's face at the Career and Technical Education Fair on Wednesday.

Bryce Bacon, 17, has always liked working on cars, but he never thought he could make a career out of it until he started taking auto shop classes at Carson High school.

“Without the program we have at the high school, I probably never would have considered it,” he said. “Eventually I’d like to take what I’ve learned in auto tech and become a mechanic, maybe one day own my own shop. This is what will enable me to do that.”

Bacon joined fellow students enrolled in a wide array of career and technical education classes – ranging from photography and drama to welding, culinary arts and health occupations – in a fair at the high school last week to showcase the offering.

Michele Lewis, a dean and coordinator of career and technical programs at the high school, said the classes are more than fun electives.

“CTE gives students the Velcro to attach the academics they’re learning,” she said. “The types of CTE programs we have today are really rigorous and provide students with an additional academic foundation and prepare students for the workforce and college.”

All career and technical classes at Carson High School – which range from photography and drama to welding, culinary arts and health occupations among others – allow students to earn college credits simultaneously.

Every department also is paired with a technical advisory committee made up of experts in the field.

“We want to ensure that all the curriculum we are teaching are what the business and industry world are using,” Lewis said.

They also are linked with student organizations that emphasize leadership skills and host competitions, such as ProStart and SkillsUSA.

Other clubs getting started at the high school are Future Business Leaders of America and FFA.

Health occupations also are getting started there. Students who complete the courses will leave high school with three certifications and seven credits to Truckee Meadows Community College.

“This prepares you for a career after high school,” said Briana Neben, 17. “It makes you one step ahead because you already have the training. And you already know what you want.”

“It’s a good way to see if you like the medical field because it gives you such a broad range of experiences,” said Chelsea Fenn, 17, who is already has her certified nurse’s assistant license. “This is a good opportunity to decide before you spend all this money at college and realize you don’t like it.”

John Aragon, 17, hopes his course in Flash also will give him an advantage when he leaves high school.

“You learn a skill set that not everyone knows,” he said. “It looks good on job applications.”

He said it has given him a foundation for a variety of careers like engineering, computer programming, game design, filmmaking or Web design.

Students also are more prepared to move on to higher education, Lewis said. It’s made even easier through a partnership with Western Nevada College.

Last year, 117 Carson High School students enrolled in CTE courses earned 351 credits while still in high school. That saved them $24,570 in future tuition fees.

Of those students, 32.7 percent of them are now enrolled in six or more credits at the college.

With funding for these types in classes in jeopardy, she said she hopes legislators realize the benefit to the students.

“Their performance on high school proficiency exams is higher,” Lewis said. “The graduation rate is higher and the dropout rate is lower.”

Bacon agrees. His classes in welding and in the auto department are his motivation for attendance.

“To me, these classes are just as important,” he said. “They are the reason I come to school more than anything.”