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February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month in Wisconsin. More than 14 million secondary and postsecondary students are enrolled in at least some CTE courses. CTE provides real world experiences to students, so much so that high-risk students are 8 to 10 times less likely to drop out in 11th or 12th grades if enrolled in a CTE program rather than general education. CTE prepares students for some of the fastest growing jobs forecasted to rise in the coming years. Columbus High School offers CTE courses in Agriculture and Natural Resources, Business and Information Technology, as well as Technology and Engineering. Below you will find some highlights of the different content areas.

Agriculture and natural resources

Did you know: Agricultural Education uses a three-component model to achieve college and career readiness. The three components include: academic and technical skills learned in the classroom; leadership through the FFA; work-based learning through Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE). Students that participate in all three components will benefit from a complete Agricultural Education.

Class Highlight: CHS offers 11 different Agricultural Education courses covering six career pathways-Animal Systems, Agribusiness Systems, Biotechnology, Food Science and Technology, Plant Systems, and Natural Resources. Two courses, Food Science and Animal Science, are science equivalent providing additional options for students. Two sections of Animal Science just concluded with the students earning a half credit of science. The curriculum covered animal related terminology, anatomy, physiology and digestion and nutrition. The students learned how to properly handle animals and dissected animal organs to better understand their physiological functions. The students can continue their knowledge of animals in the Veterinary Science class. This course exposes the students to all aspects related to working in a veterinary career from scheduling appointments to giving injections. This course has also helped prepare many students interested in pursuing a medical related career. Two popular courses include Wisconsin Fish and Aquaculture and Wisconsin Forestry and Wildlife. The students enjoy learning about how we manage our wildlife species and forests. The Agribusiness Management and Agricultural Careers and Leadership classes provide students with real world skills and knowledge they will be able to use in the future. The courses cover financial literacy, employability skills, and practical skills such as table etiquette, how to tie a tie and proper introductions. The Ag. Ed. program also has a greenhouse, which is the instructional area for Plant Science and Greenhouse Management. The students spend a majority of their class time in the greenhouse growing crops, bedding plants for a plant sale, and managing hydroponics, aquaculture and aquaponics growing systems. The students really get excited about growing produce and doing hands-on education. The Biotechnology and Food Science courses provide an opportunity for students to apply science to processing food products and improving food, fiber, fuel, pharmaceuticals, and feedstock using technology.

Career preparation: Every student enrolled in Ag. Ed. has two Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs). The first SAE is called the Foundational SAE and it is based on the student’s future career. Each student selects a career to research to learn as much as possible about it to make sure it is the career for them. The second program is called the Immersion SAE, which is based on a project the student conducts outside of school. The students can work for an employer or their parents; they may get paid or be unpaid. The key concepts learned with this project is how to maintain records and financial literacy. The students keep track of their records using an online system. Each week the students journal their time, money spent or earned, and skills attained. At the end of the quarter they complete a final project and share one of their SAE projects with the class.

Leadership/FFA: The third and final component of Ag. Ed. is the student organization FFA. The Columbus FFA is an affiliated chapter, which means every student enrolled in an Ag. Ed. class is an FFA member. The students volunteer to be involved in FFA activities. This time of year is when FFA competitions kick off. FFA members have already competed in the Leadership Development Event (LDE) at their district speaking contest with four of the five areas advancing to sectionals. Teams are currently forming for the Career Development Events (CDE). These teams will compete in March at a regional contest in order to advance to the state level. So far the teams include Veterinary Science, Dairy Evaluation, Equine Evaluation, and Agricultural Sales. Students can also apply for individual awards starting in February. Individual applications include the Proficiency Award based on the students SAE project and the Wisconsin State FFA Degree, which includes all aspects of the student’s involvement in the three circle model, class work, SAE and FFA.

Business and information technology

Did you know: CHS offers students the ability to get college credit and industry recognized credentials through taking certain Business and Information Technology courses?

Class highlight: February kicks into gear the season for Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) competiton. FBLA members will be competing in the Regional Leadership Conference at DeForest High School Feb. 2 with more than 25 other area schools. Competitions range from basic knowledge assessments to performance events. This gives students an opportunity to work on more real-world skills in a competitive environment, while also getting the ability to network with other students from the area.

In the classroom, students have the opportunity to take Advanced Accounting, a Dual Credit course through Madison College. This class allows them to obtain college credit while attending their normal high school class. Students are also working towards obtaining industry recognized certification in Microsoft Office Specialist—Word and Excel 2016. These certifications will give these students a distinct advantage in the workforce. A simple job search will see how valuable and useful this knowledge is. Students are also experiencing Personal Finance through Business and Information Technology. Students are exploring the topics of taxes, checking, paying for college, managing credit, investing, insurance and budgeting. In coordination with the local rotary, we will also be able to give all Personal Finance students a mock job interview, to enhance their skills in that area.

Technology and engineering

Did you know: Taken alone, manufacturing in the United States would be the ninth-largest economy in the world. In 2016, the average manufacturing worker in the United States earned $82,023 annually, including pay and benefits. Through the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, and 2 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap.

Class highlight

In the classroom, students have been working hard on a variety of projects related to their course work. Graphics students finished their screen printing projects using indirect stenciling to create their design. Introduction to Engineering Design students just finished up their puzzle cube projects. They created five puzzle pieces that fit together to make a perfect cube. They also used Autodesk Inventor to create 3-D models of their pieces and completed cube along with technical drawings dimensioning their pieces. The students will also be working on transferring their files to 3-D printing files and have a 3-D printed version of their puzzle cube. The Principles of Engineering class has just finished learning about coding. They are using what they have learned about coding to solve different problems. They will be creating physical structures and coding a variety of sensors and motors to find a solution to their chosen problem.

We are looking forward to adding a new class next year called our Ideas class. Students in this class will have the opportunity to use a variety of software programs associated with specific machines to create physical projects. Students will have the chance to use a vinyl cutter, 3-D printer, CNC machine, and a laser engraver/cutting machine.

The students in the one of the materials and processes sections were just beginning some sheet metal projects. The other major projects that these students will complete are a machined hammer, a foundry project and welding. The other section is starting with woods. They will be making checkerboards and jewelry boxes. The construction students just completed all of the competencies necessary to get their career connections certification in residential construction. Students in the electricity class have just picked out their electronics projects kits for the class. Electronics theory and circuit construction will be introduced to the students in the coming days.