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Dennis Conger | Preparing local kids for careers

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If you were to do a Google search on CTE the first result is “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.” That is not what I am writing about in this article. You will need to dig a little deeper and go down to the eighth Google Search result, where you will find CTE defined as “The Association for Career and Technical Education.”

CTE is about preparing students to be career and college ready. It integrates applicable 21st century skills, technical skills, and core academic knowledge with an emphasis on real world, real life abilities. CTE’s focus on enhancing 21st century skills aligns with the Wenatchee Learns strategic vision of making learning personal.

Through CTE students explore and identify a career goal. They have the opportunity to take classes in the middle school, high school, skills center and at community and technical colleges that apply math, science and other academic subjects in real-life, hands-on ways. Students pursue a program of study, which may include apprenticeships, industry certifications and two- and four-year college options. CTE students earn tuition-free college credits as well as high school credits required for graduation. Furthermore, by participating in student organizations, competitions and community service they develop essential leadership skills.

What does CTE look like in the Wenatchee School District? Imagine yourself as a student. You walk into your fourth-period engineering class where math, chemistry, physics, marketing and art are brought to life as you design snow skis in CAD, create graphics in Photoshop, go out to the shop and build them, and then develop a marking plan to sell them. Oh, and did I mention you even get to test out your new skis with some help from Mission Ridge? This is just one example of what happens daily in our classes.

Wenatchee High School offers 36 different CTE courses in business and marketing, agriculture science, health occupations, family and consumer science, photography, engineering, drafting and technology. Wenatchee Valley Tech Center offers programs in automotive technology, collision repair, computer technology, construction trades, cosmetology, culinary arts, video production, video fame programming, fire science and law enforcement. West Side High School offers CTE courses in business, family and consumer science and commercial art.

Career and technical education is an important part of Wenatchee School District and its vision for the future. Preparing students with 21st-century skills creates a brighter future for all of us.

Dennis Conger is director of career and technical education for the Wenatchee school district. He can be reached at