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With February being CTE Month, we thought it would be the perfect time to hear from WHS Assistant Principal and CTE Director Kevin Cronin about some of the exciting opportunities available and the growth of our career and technical programming. All yours Mr. Cronin:

It’s great to be a Bulldog!

It’s great to be a Bulldog! While this sentence is true and can be applied in many instances and to any of the schools in our district, since February is CTE (Career & Technical Education) Month, let’s focus on the positive attributes our nine CTE programs bring to our students. Westerly High School has committed to expanding and strengthening our CTE offerings for our students (as well as being an option for students from outside the district) over the past seven years. WHS had two RIDE-approved CTE programs prior to the 2015-16 school year, and after undertaking a rigorous application and approval process is now able to offer nine choices, including: Arts Designer, Construction, Cosmetology, Culinary Arts, Criminal Justice, Entry Level Software/Web Developer, Information Technology Specialist, Medical Pathways and P-TECH (Advanced Manufacturing) for students to choose to participate in since the 2020-21 school year. We have established our programming to match our students’ needs and interests as we want to provide opportunities that align with student choice. We have also been mindful of the needs of our state and our economy, as we want to prepare our students for future opportunities.

Through grants, town, state and federal funding and careful planning, we have been able to outfit our programs to meet or surpass industry standards for our career and technical programs. WHS has consulted with our industry partners to make informed, responsible purchases to enhance our students’ learning opportunities. We provide facilities that allow students to have legitimate, practical experiences during their school day that our teachers expertly combine with the theory that is presented within the classroom. Ultimately, WHS CTE is driven by the idea that we want to encourage students to find their passion and develop their purpose as much as they can while they are with us.

Our students gain authentic experiences through their completion of work-based learning as a component of our curriculum. One day a student may be learning about the chemical reactions of a product on human hair and the very next class they will be exploring the practical application of and performing a service on an actual client. In another classroom, students may be working with equations dealing with rise and run and later in the same class be shingling the roof of a structure they are building. These academic concepts and experiences within the CTE classrooms are also supported by our core subject teachers who have introduced concepts within their own classrooms.

One of the most rewarding aspects of our CTE program is to be able to witness our students develop their skills and move forward with their lives. Recently, we hired a member of the Class of 2017 to fulfill the role of our teacher assistant in our Culinary program.

At the close of the first semester WHS CTE students and faculty visited Westerly Middle School to present our programs to the Class of 2027, our rising 9th graders. Our current students gave their own time on this day to showcase the positive aspects of the programs they are enrolled in. The Class of ’27 students were able to participate in some hands-on activities and have discussions with our teachers and students. It was an awesome experience for our students!

Please feel free to contact with any questions regarding CTE and/or the many exciting opportunities awaiting students at WHS.

Mark Garceau is the superintendent of schools in Westerly.

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