ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – This week, middle school students in Delta and Schoolcraft Counties are learning Career and Technical Education (CTE) skills to prepare them for the future.
The Delta Schoolcraft Intermediate School District (ISD) is hosting its annual CTE Summer Camp for sixth through eighth grade students. Each day of the week is a different course–with topics including product design and development, health occupations, IT essentials, and machining.
“We open this up every year to try to help students get a better idea of what careers are available to them and also what CTE program is available to them in high school,” said ISD CTE Director Trent Bellingar during Wednesday’s machining course.
Students learned how to use CNC cutting machines, as well as manual blades and mills. At the end of the day, they go home with something they made themselves.
“We’re trying to break down the barrier that manufacturing is a dirty or awful career,” Bellingar said. “You could be a machinist, you could be an engineer, you could do all kinds of jobs in manufacturing. We’re just trying to expand their knowledge base so they can start making educated choices for their lives after high school.”
High School CTE students help the younger learners as they develop their new skills. For upcoming senior Emily LaFave, choosing a CTE program in high school has opened a lot of doors.
“I wanted to do welding, but it was full. I transferred over to machining and I have found a love for it,” she said. “I am going into the fifth year program to get my mechatronics degree a year after high school. I will be doing an apprenticeship at Vanair and doing work-based learning. Instead of coming here for two hours, I will be going to my job at Vanair for two hours and being paid to learn.”
LaFave is thrilled to share her passion for machining with students at such an early age, like upcoming eight grader Haidyn Denis.
“You get hands-on; you get to do a bunch of different things,” Denis said. “It feels like it would probably help with a lot of things and maybe get me a job in the future.”
LaFave did not attend the CTE Summer Camp when she was younger, but she believes it is a great chance for these students to learn more about their own talents and passions.
“It gets you thinking about your future,” she said. “Looking back, I wish I would’ve taken this opportunity. They’re learning lots, and it’s nice to have kids that are interested in coming to these things.”
Bellingar says it is important to make courses like machining and IT essentials accessible to young people.
“Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders don’t necessarily have an opportunity to have a lot of those career awareness or hands-on learning, because they’ve kind of been phased out of most schools,” he said. “We like to reach the students in middle school because they can start seeing a value to math and science and English by taking some of these classes, so hopefully they do better in school, do better on their state tests, then go out and get better jobs for themselves.”
To learn more about CTE programs through the Delta Schoolcraft ISD, click here.