Before they collect their diplomas next month, students in the Career & Technology Education program at Robert D. Stethem Educational Center received certificates and kudos for completing one of five programs that will give them a leg up as they move on to college and careers.
“America’s economy and position as the leader in the world is linked to a skilled workforce,” said Lynne Arnold, principal at Stethem.
Traci Chappelear, coordinator of Career and Technology Education, said that by choosing to enroll in CTE, students take control of their futures. “You are driven to do something different,” she said. “And it is my hope that drive will propel you in all your endeavors.”
Stethem offers five programs — automotive technician, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), horticultural services, interactive media production and pharmacy technician.
Oumain Ballinger, who will graduate from Thomas Stone High School on June 4, learned about Stethem and its program during a field trip. “I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he said. “I didn’t think there were a lot of options for me. I like working on cars … but I saw HVAC and I wanted to do that. I like hands-on work.” Ballinger is National Center for Construction Education and Research core and HVAC Level 1 certified.
Taking the stage to award their students certificates, program instructors told the audience of family, friends and faculty just how “real world” the instruction Stethem students receive can be.
“Take a good look at these guys,” said John Young, the HVAC instructor. “They’ll be the ones taking care of your heating and air conditioning.”
“Horticultural is a big word with a lot of things going on,” said Kyle Olsen, instructor of the horticultural program. “But it all boils down to — Everybody’s got to eat, right?”
Closing remarks were given by Kenneth Stethem, older brother of the late Robert Stethem, a 1980 graduate of Thomas Stone High School. The center is named for Robert Stethem, a U.S. Navy Seabee diver killed in 1985 by terrorists during an airplane hijacking. Stethem, who now lives in Virginia, said it was nice coming to a place where he hears his family mentioned so much, joking that it’s even better because it’s pronounced correctly.
“I want you to reflect on something … not in the good times but in the bad times, during the struggle,” Stethem said. “Your parents, your teachers, they’ll tell you nobody goes through life without struggle.” He urged the students to remain passionate about what they do in life and that passion isn’t so much about loving something as it is suffering for it.
“You like this enough to suffer through it,” Stethem said. “It doesn’t mean you quit when it gets tough. As you go forward in your adventures, find those principles you want to live by and live by them.”
Jasmond Gray, who took interactive media production classes, said the center, “helped me discover my passion.” Gray will attend Bowie State University after graduating from Maurice J. McDonough High School on June 3. At Stethem, “you get to learn new things that you wouldn’t necessarily learn at another school,” she said.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.