By the time Miranda Cox graduates from Huron High School in June, she’ll know how to simplify negative exponents in fractions, how many men signed the Declaration of Independence, and what condensation synthesis is all about.
She’ll also know how to use 2-by-4’s to frame a window, and how to safely handle food while feeding a crowd.
As a student in Huron’s Career & Technical Education programs (CTE), Miranda knows her well-rounded education gives her an edge.
“Even if you have all the book smarts in the world, if you don’t have hands-on learning to know how it applies in the world, it’s not worth much,” said Miranda. “Taking these vocational classes is not just something to do for credit. It’ll help you in the future.”
Miranda will be one of many available to talk to students this Tuesday, Feb. 10 when Huron High School hosts the district’s first ever Career Night from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in the auditorium.
Career Night will include interactive career displays; a chance to talk with representatives from apprenticeship programs, Washtenaw Community College, and various trades; tour the Career & Technical Education labs at Huron and talk to current students, teachers and advisory members; and learn about options after high school.
Karen Eisley, department chair for Career & Technical Education, says everyone is invited to Career Night, but that it will be especially useful for high school juniors and seniors who are looking for post-high school alternatives that may not include moving directly into a four-year university.
“They might be thinking about an apprentice or skilled trade,” she said. “They might be thinking about ways to pay for a four-year degree because students often get college credit while in an apprenticeship program. And it’s a way for parents and students to come in and see the different career and technical programs we have in the Ann Arbor Public Schools at Huron.”
Guest Speaker Russell Davis, state director of the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeships, will speak on the topic: “Fitting the Pieces Together for Career Success”
Most of the one- and two-year CTE programs at Huron are geared for juniors and seniors, and include auto service; culinary/hospitality; homebuilding; health sciences technology; business management and marketing; finance; and cosmetology.
Eisley said some students go on to pursue careers in these fields, while others take on part-time jobs to help pay for college or other post-high school training.
Eisley said there is a large demand for those in the skilled trades—despite the insistence of some that everyone needs to pursue a 4-year degree right out of high school.
“A four-year college isn’t for everybody, but there are jobs out there,” said Eisley. “We’re never going to say that they don’t need post-high school training. But there are other options that we don’t always consider. And some families just can’t afford the expense of college, and sometimes they’re looking for a way to pay their way through.”
Miranda, who also plays bass in the Huron High School Orchestra, was especially fond of the home-building program, which is a year-long course that meets three hours a day. She and her classmates are in the process of building a house in northeast Ann Arbor from the ground up.
“It’s really changed my perspective when I’m looking at a house,” she said. “I’ll say, `Oh, that’s a gambrel style roof and I’ll know what the framing on the inside would look like … I think it’s a really great thing to be able to look at a structure and say, `This was built right.’”
Miranda plans to attend Washtenaw Community College next year to earn a certificate from the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management department, and may stick around for a certificate in construction technology. She eventually plans to earn a business degree at Eastern Michigan University.
One day, Miranda wants to own her own restaurant, and she knows that the skills she learned at Huron—both in culinary arts and homebuilding—will be useful when she buys land or a building, and then oversees repairs.
“These are good skills to have in the future because you won’t have to rely solely on other people’s skills,” she said. “You’ll have them under your own belt.”