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Madras High School seniors sign letters of commitment to begin training for skilled trades.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Joe Krenowicz, director of the Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, left, and Jeremy Green, COCC Madras campus director, flank Sebastian Norato, left, and Owen Arreola, who are signing letters of intent to begin training for skilled trades.
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.

On May 1, two Central Oregon seniors from Madras High School 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 and math) for the High Desert ESD. "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."

Madras High School manufacturing instructor Ben Anderson agreed. "Both the automotive and welding industry produce excellent paying jobs with many opportunities for advancement," he said. "CTE classes at the high school level are important to give students a taste of what these high demand jobs might look like."

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%."

Sebastian Norato is signing with the Automotive Technology program at Central Oregon Community College to pursue training in the automobile industry.

"I've always had a passion for mechanics," said Norato, "and I'm excited to take these skills and open my own shop one day."

Owen Arreola is also signing with Central Oregon Community College's Manufacturing and Applied Technology program.

"In our CTE program here, many of our projects benefitted the Madras community," said Arreola. "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."

Anderson sees tremendous promise in both of these students. "These are both super good kids. Both are willing to work hard and do whatever it takes to get the job done," he said.

"This is why we do what we do," Anderson continued. "This is the fruit of our labor, seeing students pursuing education for trades that are in high demand. Our goal is to give them 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 bring hope to students."

High Desert Education Service District

The High Desert Education Service District is a regional support system that links school districts in Central Oregon to state and national education resources. Its programs help districts minimize duplication of services, preserve their local budgets and receive special programs that might otherwise be unavailable to them.

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