ST. CROIX – Some junior high school students started learning about careers in technical fields early on at the annual career fair at the Sainte-Croix Career and Technical Education Center on Wednesday.
For more than three hours, students from public, private and parish schools had the chance to immerse themselves in an interactive learning experience which organizers said was a “critical” part of what CTEC has to offer.
“It’s essential for us to have this career fair – a lot of people don’t know what great programs we have,” said Cenita Heywood, chair of the student services department.
The CETC, she said, is a “nurturing school,” with students transported by bus from other high schools to campus or on foot from the nearby high school of the Sainte-Croix educational complex. Wednesday’s fair was open to eighth, ninth and tenth graders.
On Wednesday, students walked through the classrooms where they heard presentations from instructors as well as current students from the Career and Technical Education Center.
In a welding class, prospective students wore face shields as they watched welders work on their class projects.
Dozens of students gathered in a large room that houses the agriculture program where they discovered various career paths.
While the career fair served to educate potential students about the school, current students had the chance to hone their presentation skills as teachers took a step back.
Eighteen students enrolled at CTEC Aviation Academy showed job fair attendees how to use a flight simulator to practice take-off and landing at Sainte-Croix. They also learned about aircraft aerodynamics and basic engine and flight safety.
Academy instructor Ira Williams showed confidence in his students and their presentation as he waited outside his classroom as they took on the role of instructors.
According to Williams, the academy prepares students to become licensed pilots by the time they graduate.
Heywood said it is quite common for CETC students to start their careers immediately after completing one of CETC’s 15 programs.
“A student who graduated from the Millwright program once worked at Limetree at just 19,” Heywood said. “We always talk about college, but if they can’t go to college, they’re already prepared for a career right after high school. “
Heywood said more than 800 students attended the career fair this year. The fair, now in its 20th year, typically accommodates over 2,000 students, but the school has decided to limit the fair to students in grades 8-10 to provide a more “intimate” experience.