Quiches and cheesecake, robotics and tic-tac-toe games, and clay hearts and lungs were among the topics of discussion yesterday as North Point High School career and technology education (CTE) students served as real-life examples of college and career readiness. Business partners, representatives from local organizations and Dr. Karen Salmon, the assistant state superintendent for career and college readiness with the Maryland State Department of Education, joined together at North Point for a student-led, hands-on tour of CTE programs available for Charles County Public Schools students.
Before the tour began, Superintendent of Schools Kimberly Hill welcomed attendees and talked about how the school system’s emphasis on college and career readiness was a longtime in the making. “The vision for this school was planned in the early 2000s. Charles County was on the cutting edge of building a high school around career and technology education. Our focus on college and career readiness is long standing in Charles County and we continue to be on the cutting edge by providing students with the most up-to-date technologies and learning opportunities,” Hill said.
On the agenda for the tour were visits to several North Point CTE programs including Culinary Arts, Automotive Technology, Cisco Networking Academy, Engineering, Electrical Construction, Biotechnology and the Academy of Health Professions. A group of North Point student ambassadors led the tour, in which attendees were broken down in to several small groups to initiate small discussion with their student leader. The ambassadors were seniors Justin Arter and Jenna Williams, officers in the state level of SkillsUSA, senior Kendall Douglas and sophomore Tyler Whitsett, who are enrolled in the JROTC program at North Point, and seniors Matt Bowie and Dylan McCabe, who attend North Point’s Criminal Justice program.
Student ambassadors were also selected to represent their respective programs during classroom visits. First on the tour was the Culinary Arts program in which students were busy preparing breakfast quiches and fried eggs, as well as the lunch that would be served following the tour. Salmon talked with several students about what they were making and two Culinary Arts student ambassadors – juniors Brandon Powell and Madison Stanley – provided a tour through the program’s kitchen area. They also talked to attendees about the program, how much time students get to spend doing hands-on preparation and the types of jobs graduates of the program secure after they finish high school. In the Cisco lab, several students were completing a programming assignment and senior Cheyenne Scott talked about industry certifications available to students who finish the program, and scholarship opportunities available to her as a Cisco Academy student.
In the Engineering classroom, North Point Principal Michael Simms and Superintendent Hill talked about a lab program offered to engineering students that is generally available at the college level. “We have the MATLAB program for students which is usually offered in college,” Simms said. The MATLAB program is a high-level language and interactive environment used by engineers and scientists that features signal and image processing, communications, control systems and computational finance. Hill said former students often visit North Point and that a few engineering graduates expressed a need for students to gain exposure to MATLAB prior to attending college.
“We have one of the only schools nationwide that offers this program at the high-school level,” Hill added. North Point senior Jasmine Mitchell, who served as one of the engineering program ambassadors, told attendees that having exposure to the MATLAB program was helpful, but the content was also challenging in a positive way. The MATSCIENCE program is also offered at the school. A few engineering students also provided demonstrations of classroom projects, including one group who designed an “unbeatable” tic-tac-toe game program and challenged Board of Education member Margaret Marshall to a game, in which she tied with the computer.
During the stop to the Electrical Construction lab, teacher Keith Gascon discussed the importance of partnerships in support of CTE programs in order to provide students with real-world experiences and opportunities for success after high school. “We have solid partnerships with industry leaders and have several kids who have graduated who are now instructors or are completing apprenticeships. Several students take the apprenticeship route but there are so many opportunities that fall under the electrical umbrella. The partnerships are so important because we have the leaders of tomorrow in our classrooms,” he said.
The final classroom stop on the tour was the Academy of Health Professions, where students had attendees participate in different hands-on activities. Hill learned about lung placement in the body by examining organ models made of clay; Salmon learned that all students enrolled in the program were CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, certified; Board Member Barbara Palko learned how the heart works as part of the circulatory system; and Mrs. Marshall demonstrated how to intubate a patient. Program ambassador junior Alexis Marshall also talked with attendees about the length of the program, internship opportunities and partnerships with local medical facilities.
Earlier this school year, Salmon expressed an interest in visiting Charles County Public Schools to learn about the school system’s commitment to college and career readiness. At the conclusion of the tour, she thanked all involved in coordinating her visit and said she is impressed with the school system’s advancements in career and technology education. “It is so rewarding to go to each of the classrooms and see the caliber of programs you have here and having the kids explain what they are doing. North Point has always been in the forefront. I first visited the school in 2005 and have seen tremendous growth in the programs. I am very impressed by the CTE programs available in Charles County,” she said.
Board of Education Chairman Virginia McGraw, as well as representatives from the Indian Head Naval Base, the Charles County Branch of the NAACP, IBEW and Joint Base Andrews joined Dr. Salmon on the tour. There are 17 CTE programs available at North Point that range from Cosmetology and Education Careers to Drafting, Graphic Communications and Manufacturing. Students interested in participating in a CTE program at North Point must apply during their eighth grade year. The application window for the 2015-16 school year is Nov. 30 through Dec. 18. Application information is available on North Point’s website at http://www.edline.net/pages/North_Point_High_School/Departments/STI_Admissions/Admissions.
Charles County’s six other high schools include CTE programs ranging from the Teacher Academy of Maryland (TAM) program and Project Lead the Way (PLTW) to Biomedical Sciences and Business Education. The Robert D. Stethem Educational Center also houses several CTE programs including Interactive Media Production, Horticultural Services and Pharmacy Technician. Information on all available CTE programs for Charles County Public Schools students is available in the High School Program of Studies, posted on the school system website at http://www.ccboe.com/community/students/programofstudies.php.
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.