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Career and Technical Education Month: Park Center Senior High offers opportunities for students to explore, create

Career and Technical Education Month: Park Center Senior High offers opportunities for students to explore, create

February may be Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month, but Park Center Senior High School (PCSH) has CTE opportunities going on every day of the school year.

In a recent class, students spent time on three different woodworking projects, which they could complete at their own pace: a stool, a wooden box with a lid and a picture frame. 

a student uses a woodworking tool


In another classroom, students were training artificial intelligence to recognize a book; the day before they were coding robots to wave back when waved at. 

three students show off their robotic waving hand


Yet another classroom was completing a welding simulation, which provides instant feedback on work angle, speed, straightness and other factors. These are just a sampling of the many CTE classes students have the opportunity to pursue at PCSH.

a student uses a welding simulator


“Getting familiar with our machines opens up a lot of trade paths,” said PCSH tech. ed teacher Matt Sauter as he supervised students at work on their woodworking projects Feb. 16. “If you learn how to operate, work on or design for these machines, that’s a high-skill, high-wage opportunity where you are in demand as a worker.”

He said students also get experience with basic electrical work, using lasers, routers, mills, and 3-D printers such as CNC machines and the software to operate them in CTE classes, exposing them to the current reality of manufacturing and trades.

a teacher talks to a student about their woodworking project


Tanya Drake teaches one CTE class at PCSH in addition to her role in staff development and as the school’s robotics coach. She said the skills students learn in CTE classes can launch them into a wide variety of careers. Just a few of the careers her former CTE students now have include machinists, helicopter mechanics, bioengineers and more. 

“I want students to see the possibilities of application for problem solving and design when they take these courses,” she said. “The careers can range anywhere from straight out of high school to technical college or a four year degree. These are skills that will translate across education levels, depending on how much schooling you want to do after high school.”

a student works on their woodworking project