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Facebook donates $200,000 to Crook County School District CTE programs at Thursday event

PHOTO COURTESY OF OLIVE AND BLU PHOTOGRAPHY - Facebook Community Development Regional Manager William Marks accepts a note from a VEX Robot Thursday morning containing the announcement of a $200,000 Facebook grant. Looking on are Crook County School District Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson and Facebook Data Center Site Manager Andrew Gold.

Crook County School District can fulfill the wish lists of many of its career and technical education, or CTE, programs this year thanks to a large Facebook grant.

The district announced the launch of expanded CTE programs for high school students Thursday morning, largely due to the Facebook grant of $200,000. The grant will help the district fund a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) lab and seven CTE/STEM programs, which include agriculture science, graphic design, business management, culinary arts, health science, manufacturing and technology,and natural resource management.

Housed at Crook County High School, the CTE programs are available to all 900 students at Crook County and Pioneer high schools. This year, about 700 students will be participating in the programs.

The programs were unveiled Thursday at a ribbon-cutting event at the new STEM lab at Crook County High School with remarks by Sara Johnson, Superintendent, Crook County School District; State Representative Vikki Breese-Iverson; William Marks, Community Development Regional Manager, Facebook; Michelle Jonas, Principal, Crook County High School; Scott Cooper, Crook County School District Board Chair; and Lisa Dobey, East Cascades Works Board Chair.

"Career and technical education programs are in high demand as the need for skilled trade workers grows throughout the country––especially here in rural America––and so we identified this as a critical need for our students. With an emphasis on real-world, real-life skills, these dynamic and comprehensive programs connect students to academics and training that will help them be successful in the future," Johnson said. "Each CTE strand is unique, yet they all offer a rigorous sequence of courses, beginning with foundational skills and ending in subject-matter mastery. Each strand provides hands-on experiences in the classroom led by dedicated educators and meaningful, work-based experiences facilitated by industry partners. We are thrilled to be implementing the expansion of programs starting this fall and are deeply grateful to Facebook for their incredible support."

Crook County School District has partnered with East Cascades Works, a nonprofit that supports workforce development in Central Oregon, to act as fiscal receiver for the funds and provide guidance, expertise and mentorship to the district.

The funds will primarily fund new equipment for classrooms in the CTE program. Johnson noted that at the end of the prior school year, CTE staff was asked to compile a wish list of things that would make their individual programs great.

"We came together with some partners and we decided we were going to ask for some computers because we could improve our graphic design program," she recalls. "Once we found out we were getting the computers, Facebook said, 'We don't want to leave the other CTE kids out. What would it take to give the other CTE programs a boost?'"

So the district and CTE staff referred back to the wish lists, and Facebook identified things on those lists it would be willing to support. The long list of items was expected to cost about $200,000.

Upcoming purchases courtesy of the grant will include 8-by-4-foot butcher block tables and a bread oven for the culinary arts program, as well as a planer, field cameras, climbing gear and hiking boots for the natural resources program. In addition, the health occupation program will receive a mannequin capable of simulating different body functions.

The wish-list items should arrive later this school year. Purchase orders have been filled out, and once the grant money is transferred to the district, the orders will be placed. "We tried to make it happen really quickly," Johnson remarked.

Johnson and district staff are not the only ones speaking highly of the emphasis on CTE programs. Marks stressed their importance during the ribbon-cutting event Thursday.

"Career and technical education programs are incredibly important for the students of today to be career- and college-ready, and we're proud to help Crook County School District students gain real-world, real-life CTE and STEM skills that will help them be successful in the future," he said. "Facebook is committed to playing a positive role and investing in the long-term vitality of Prineville, and we're excited to see these robust CTE programs come to life for these high schoolers."

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