Many students at Sturgis Brown High School benefit from having the ability to work hands on doing what they already know they want to be their career upon graduation through the Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.
As a kickoff to CTE Month, students and staff from SBHS shared with a representative from the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) what programs they have at SBHS and why they are important to them. Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen signed a declaration declaring February as CTE Month during the discussion.
Ashley Parker, with the ACTE, visited SBHS, along with high schools in Brookings, Rapid City and Watertown.
"I can share with the legislators and congress now to show them really how important this all is," Parker said. "On a personal level it is so great to see the programs and meet the teachers. South Dakota has some incredible assets. It really helps the students to think now about what they want to be doing."
SBHS has 10 different clusters of CTE programs offered, with different classes within those clusters for students. They offer classes within the Transportation, Distribution and Logistics cluster, the Manufacturing cluster, Ag, Food and Natural Resources cluster, Architecture and Construction cluster, Arts and AV cluster, Business Management and Administration cluster, Hospitality and Tourism cluster, Human Services cluster, and Information and Technology cluster.
During the 2010-2011 school year, 620 students were enrolled in CTE, out of 682 students attending SBHS. About 46 juniors and seniors were enrolled in a Youth Internship Experience, which allows students to take part in an internship program in a field they are interested in.
"I learned a lot more than I was expecting," Jacob Morgan, a student in the automotive class, said. "The knowledge that you gain from it is indescribable. It gives students an option to pick a career and it opens their eyes up to different careers."
Jessica Hoffman, a student in the culinary arts program, said she was glad she was able to be in the program because it helped show her what she wanted to major in when she went to college and it gave her the skills to do what she wanted to do.
"I was looking at opening up my own bakery and the business part was a pain in the butt but it helped a lot to learn what I needed to do to open my own business," Hoffman said.
Many students said they enjoy the CTE programs because it gets them out of the classroom and able to work on things hands on, giving them real life experience. For Hoffman, her favorite part of the program was being able to put on a dinner for the school board and planning not only what meals to serve, but how to serve them while staying within the budget.
"It's fun to do something out of class for the class and putting it all into practice," Hoffman said.
In 2011, SBHS graduated 135 students from the CTE program and had a 98.54 percent graduation rate, compared to a 75.81 percent overall graduation rate for SBHS. In 2010, 133 students graduated from the CTE program, with a 98.52 percent graduation rate, compared to an 85.94 percent overall SBHS graduation rate.
"They know by the end of the semester whether this is something they want to do or not," Coleen Keffler, the CTE Coordinator and culinary arts instructor for SBHS, said.