On April 30, representatives from the Dunnellon Chamber and Business Association went out to Dunnellon High School for their Career and Technical Education Showcase Tour. Each of the County’s public high schools offers a tour of some of their programs each spring in order to educate the community about the types of industries students are preparing for when they complete high school. The programs offered are current with the demands of the area’s job industry, and students enrolled in CTE classes are also taught “soft skills” which help them become better employees later on.
Dunnellon High has 11 programs from which their 1200 students can choose. Currently over 900 students are enrolled in a CTE program at Dunnellon. Some are enrolled in more than one program if their schedule allows. Students who complete three years or more in a program of study are considered program completers. In each program, students take industry certification exams to show the extent of their knowledge.
On April 30, community members were taken on a tour of four of Dunnellon High’s programs, the Power & Energy Academy (including Welding), Early Childhood Education, Agritechnology and Culinary Arts. (Programs not toured were Administrative Office Specialist, Allied Health Assisting, Digital Video Production, Game/Simulation/Animation and Visual Design, Teacher Assisting and Web Development).
We began our tour in the media center, where a slideshow was playing featuring photos of some of the 70 entries in this year’s edible books competition, which is open to all students but is something expected of the culinary arts students, who work alone or in groups on their entries.
Next we traveled to the Power & Energy classroom where there is a virtual welder inside and outside Duke Energy is building a pole yard where students can practice. Students in the program can certify with the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) and then continue to earn certification in Power & Energy and/or Welding. Next year, the Power & Energy program will become a Marion County Career Choice Academy, which means, students from anywhere in the County can seek admittance to the program.
Our next classroom was Early Childhood Education where three to five year olds spend four hours in a preschool run by students four days a week. Students in this program also work with students next door at Dunnellon Elementary in order to earn the contact hours to qualify for certification. There are different centers where the program students help the little learners, but you won’t find any computers in the classroom. A goal of theirs is to help the little ones become more socialized.
From there, we traveled back to the agriculture lab and classroom where two students talked about the events they participated in during the school year, some of the milestones they achieved and some of the things they are looking forward to next year. Instead of bringing the entire group out back to the barn, they brought some of the livestock to us, and one of them was actually won during a competition. We learned that the students had competed in a horticulture challenge and had earned quite a few second and third place honors, and that ALL 15 of the hogs qualified for the youth fair this year. This is not necessarily a “first,” but it does sometimes happen that a student will raise a hog that is just short of the weight and back fat requirements.
Lastly, we were treated to a delicious lunch courtesy of the Culinary Arts students. These students earn their Serve Safe and Pro-Start certifications as they learn the aspects of both front of the house and back of the house restaurant operations. As in all of the programs, there is also an emphasis on acquiring soft skills in culinary arts, and the students were responsible for presenting information to the group of approximately 30 business people in attendance.
Students who earn industry certification in Career and Technical Education programs across the County are ready to serve you as employees right after high school if they choose, or they may seek additional training at a technical school or other advanced curriculum. Any businesses who need more information or wish to participate on the Business Advisory Council can contact the director of CTE, Mark Vianello at Mark.Vianello@marion.k12.fl.us