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Students praise career classes

Regional students taking Alpena courses say program is a hit

News Photo by Julie Goldberg From left to right, Hillman High School students Claude White and Xavier Baker and Atlanta High School students Hailee Brown and Brett Durocher are four of the students who travel from nearby districts to participate in the Alpena High School Career and Technical Education Program.

ALPENA — Students from Alcona, Atlanta, and Hillman high schools have had the opportunity to travel to Alpena to experience new hands-on learning opportunities.

Alpena High School opened its doors to Alcona, Atlanta and Hillman students this school year to let them take Career and Technical Education Program classes they wouldn’t be able to take in their own district.

Atlanta students Brett Durocher and Hailee Brown both said it’s been good to travel to Alpena to take the classes. Durocher, a senior who took a welding class this school year, said the only struggle is getting up early to ride the bus every day, but said the class is amazing.

Brown, who has taken health care classes, said there are more opportunities available for them in Alpena.

Hillman junior Xavier Baker said using the CTE equipment is nice, because he said it’s better than what’s in Hillman, while Hillman senior Claude White said there’s a lot more equipment to use in Alpena.

Baker took an automotive class because of the life skills he gained and also because it saved him some money on later training if he wants to go that route as a career.

Both White and Durocher have taken the welding classes and received certifications. Durocher said he already has a welding job lined up.

Brown, a junior, wants to go into the health care field, so she thought taking the classes would help her get basic information and have the opportunity to job shadow. She said it’s nice to have mannikins in the classroom to practice on.

“At first, it’s kind of daunting, the ride every day and then being in a new school, but it’s 100% worth it,” Brown said. “At our school, you have the same teachers from like sixth grade up, so it’s just so nice having a new teacher.”

Brown said she wants to take the mechatronics course next school year. Mechatronics combines math, innovation and critical thinking, and engineering, along with hands-on training in design processes. White said he wishes he didn’t have to graduate so he could take the mechatronics class next school year.

“If you’re debating on doing it, do it,” Brown said about any student who is thinking about taking CTE classes.

Alcona students are done using the CTE Program this school year and weren’t available for comment about taking the CTE classes.

Alcona Community Schools Superintendent Dan O’Connor said Alcona students enjoyed the experiences and expanded opportunities. He also said the school is happy to collaborate with the other districts.

The four districts, along with the Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona Educational Service District, were collectively awarded a $1.9 million Marshall Plan for Talent grant in December to help students be career- and college-ready when graduating high school. Some of that grant will help pay for the transportation costs for other districts to travel to Alpena starting next school year.

CTE Program Director Joyce McCoy said it’s been an awesome experience to bring the students to Alpena. She said the number of students should triple next school year.

“We’re so excited to share everything we have,” McCoy said.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.