Schools focus on tech education

BEAUFORT — East Carteret High School aerospace engineering students were busy Friday analyzing data from a miniature wind tunnel while others were using 3D printers to develop high tech designs.

The course is among many offered in county high schools and middle schools under the umbrella of career and technical education.

With February celebrated as Career and Technical Education Month, many schools in the county and state are highlighting a wide range of CTE programs.

As part of the county school system’s celebration, career development coordinator Holly Tolston hosted Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, for a tour of CTE classes Friday at East Carteret High School.

Ms. Tolston said many CTE programs use high tech equipment, which requires state funding, so she appreciated Rep. McElraft touring the school to see students and staff in action.

“CTE covers so many areas, and many programs offer students professional certifications so they can go out and get jobs,” Ms. Tolston said.

For example, East Carteret offers a welding course allowing students to receive their professional American Welding Society certification.

Zack Davis, who teaches welding and marine trades at ECHS, said several of his students were hired right out of high school as professional welders.

“Everyone of them that went out and got jobs makes more money than I do,” he said.

Mr. Davis also teaches boat building, navigation and other marine-related trades. Many of the products students create, such as shrimp nets, are sold to put money back into the program for supplies and materials.

Some of the courses included under CTE are health sciences, engineering, trades and industry, agriculture education, animal science, marketing, business education and family and consumer sciences, which include foods and hospitality.

Ms. Tolston said CTE offers students several career and post-secondary education pathways, of which many require additional education at a community college or four-year university.

Thanks to a close working relationship with Carteret Community College, many high school courses lead directly into programs at CCC, according to Ms. Tolston. Several allow high school students to earn both high school credits and tuition-free college credits. Professors teach certain CTE courses at East Carteret as part of the arrangement.

Rep. McElraft, who filed Friday for her seventh-term representing District 13, said she has been a long-time advocate of CTE education and was impressed with what she witnessed.

“Workforce development is an important part of our state’s economy, and I have always been an advocate for CTE education. I also believe we have the best community college system in the nation,” she said.

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

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