Unlocking industry opportunities
West Linn-Wilsonville School District officials and local industry and education representatives went on a student-led tour last week to learn about work being done within the Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at West Linn High School.
The high school received a $422,715 CTE Revitalization Grant from the Oregon Department of Education about a year ago — funds that went toward a multimedia production studio, amplifying the robotics and engineering area, and a technology-based summer camp program, which will happen again in the summer of 2019. The grant, which ends in June 2019, was originally written for the journalism, web design and engineering CTE programs — a set of classes taught by CTE-certified teachers who have industry experience. But since receiving the grant, WLHS has developed an additional environmental science CTE program that incorporates classes like geology and ecology.
And on Dec. 5, students showcased the CTE facilities and explained their programs to representatives including Clackamas Community College, LAM Research, Northwest Scholastic Press Association and school district officials.
"Part of our grant requirements was establishing those community partners. Those local businesses, those industry partners can help inform and basically say these are the skills kids in your program need to have," said English and journalism teacher Glenn Krake, adding that each program has an advisory committee made up of community partners. "We are not just spinning our wheels babysitting over here. We are building skills that are applicable to the field of those high-wage, high-demand jobs."
Having a CTE-certified teacher also allows the programs to receive federal funding for tools and equipment. So, while the environmental science program was not funded under the revitalization grant, it did receive federal dollars this year that went toward the building of two greenhouses — which are still under construction — and professional development for teachers.
Krake said the grant, in many ways, was a gateway to the broadcast journalism program. He said local businesses started donating equipment. Comcast donated an old anchor desk and another company donated lights to the school's broadcast studio. The grant also helped purchase new technology that allows broadcast journalism students to stream footage digitally. As a result, there is an after-school program that live streams sporting events.
"They got their feet wet in the fall with this new technology (by) live streaming volleyball games," Krake said.
The grant also helped purchase other big ticket items like equipment for a second computer lab. The publications room was split in half to create two separate computer labs.
But Krake wants to find a way to make sure WLHS's CTE programs are accessible to underserved populations. He said some of the programs are male-heavy and he would like to have more female representation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses. He said because of graduation requirements, the six-period school schedule and the limited number of elective courses make it difficult for some students to free up time in their schedules to take CTE classes. Some of Krake's journalism students who are in leadership positions have to take summer or early bird classes to free up time in their schedule, but he notes that not every student can afford summer classes or get to school early. Krake said switching to an eight-period school day could make classes more accessible.
And after the CTE tour, Krake saw the importance of the programs through the students' eyes.
"I think the most exciting thing for me was to see the students in our program articulate the program," he said. "It was neat to see the tour guides of students that have been taking the classes show off what they're working on."
Junior Keith Revilla, who is the marketing lead for WLHS's FIRST Robotics Competition Team, found interacting with representatives valuable.
"These kinds of people are the kind of people I've been wanting to talk to for getting internships and getting my name known a little bit before I graduate," Revilla said. "We got lots of new stuff, hopefully they like what we've been doing."
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