Posted by: Tom Ross | December 24, 2011

CTE and the Holidays

I noticed several articles from around the nation about how CTE students and classes cleverly incorporate the Holidays into their training both to celebrate  the season and to demonstrate how what they are learning has practical applications. Other CTE classes are translating the skills they are learning into toy making in general — learning how to take a toy concept and make it a reality.

The Academy of Careers and Technology in West Virginia hosted its 11th annual Festival of Trees again this year. Somehow they stretched 16 career clusters into 29 Holiday Trees! In the article from the Register Herald, Principal Charles Pack said, “we have each one of our programs build a tree that reflects the program they are in. It’s all about the use of material, the skills and technologies their program has,” he explained. “For instance, carpentry builds one out of lumber and wood, the electrical use conduit, programmable logic controllers. Some of the electrical trees you see out here, two of them may have $4,000 to $5,000 worth of electronic equipment that are controlling the lights — which may be overkill — but it showcases the skills each program offers.”

A tree created by ACT’s welding class was on display in the main lobby of the ACT training building during the annual Festival of Trees.  Photo: Chris Tilley

The Culinary Arts Program tree we can visualize. But for a description of the Criminal Justice Program and the Pharmacy Tech Programs’ trees, you’ll have to read the article. It’s inspiring how creative CTE kids can be.

At Milford High School in Milford, Delaware, CTE high school students hosted a party for Morris Elementary School students as well as The Greater Milford Boys and Girls Club and The Learning Center: their 13th annual Santa’s Workshop Program. “The high school students used the skills they have learned in class from designing the backgrounds, building toys and mentoring children, “the article in The Milford Live Progressive  explained. The event gives the high school students a chance to show the elementary students what they have learned, and the younger kids are inspired to want to learn the same.


Students at the Career Building Academy in Colorado Spring, Colorado, usually spend their time learning how to build houses. But this month they focused their skills onto something smaller: wooden toys for local children.  The winter weather and the Holiday season both helped the students by allowing them to work indoors as well as use their skills in a way that gives back to their community.  High school students attend the Academy part time in addition to their regular classes.

Vista Ridge High School senior David Collas, 18, held 3-year-old Ashton King after the kids received Christmas gifts made by students at The Career Building Academy. Kristina Iodice: The Gazette

In the Colorado Springs Gazette article Jordan Reed, 17, a senior in Falcon School District 49’s Virtual Academy, said the program is great for those who are hands-on learners who like to solve problems by physically working on things. “It’s not school work, but it’s work that we can use in real life,” he said. “It’s been a real learning experience.”

Rick Johnson, founder and president of The Career Building Academy, said, “These are kids who may be struggling in high school,” he said. “We’re teaching them a trade, we’re teaching them how to work, and we’re teaching them work ethics.”

They are also learning the joy of giving back to their community.

And if you are interested in incorporating toy making into your CTE curriculum for the next Holiday Season, you need not reinvent the wheel. The Ohio Resource Center has put together a curriculum for the development, design, and marketing of a new toy idea using materials that are available to them. Students learn how to create a prototype, research the demographics, and even design the packaging. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Can you imagine the event you could create around these activities next year?

If you celebrated the season with CTE related activities or events, let us know. We would love to feature you here.

Happy Holidays!

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