The Career & Technical Education (CTE) courses at Patrick County High School (PCHS) are getting more popular with students according to Trey Cox, Assistant Principal.
Cox said he believes around 400, or about half of the student population, were enrolled in CTE classes during semesters last year, with more than half to 75 percent of the student populations taking a CTE class each year.
While the majority of students voluntarily choose to take the classes, Cox said students are required to take at least one CTE class.
“The Economics and Personal Finance is a class that is mandated by the state that you have to take, and it is taught as well. All your juniors have to take it to graduate,” he said.
Cox said a popular class is Go Tech, a year-long endeavor that touches on the nine of CTE.
“If eighth graders aren’t in band, they take it. So, we get quite a few folks,” he said.
Cox said most of the CTE classes lead to a real-life professional certification license that will allow students to enter the workforce right after graduation.
“I think what you’re looking at now is nobody wanting to have college debt. Once they get here, if they get a certificate here, they can transfer it to P&HCC (Patrick & Henry Community College) or other community colleges and pick up more certifications, if needed and depending on what it is,” he said.
He noted several students received job offers that allowed them to make $40,000 a year with the certifications earned at PCHS.
The CTE offerings are “a gateway to a career for a kid, and they can do it for free here,” he said.
Cox said PCHS offers more than five different free education areas, with classes grouped into clusters that include agricultural education, business and information technology, career connections, family and consumer science, health and medical science, marketing, trade and industrial education, and more.
“There’s so many clusters a couple of different things fit under, and there’s some that we don’t have anything under unfortunately because we just don’t have the people to teach it,” he said.
Cox said each cluster includes anywhere from three to 20 classes, with some being offered every other year.
“We always want to give the best opportunities for these kids. Unfortunately, sometimes we just can’t because we don’t have the manpower or we don’t have enough students signed up for a class,” he said.
Cox believes the interest in CTE courses will grow, especially as more new classes are offered.
“We’ve got some new stuff. We’ve got a Mechatronics class, sponsored between us and P&HCC, over at the P&HCC complex. Next year we start with Natural Resources, and we’re going to have Forestry the year after next,” he said, and added that a fence is being built to house large animals onsite.
“There’s just a lot of stuff coming,” he said.