The Roundup -

McKenzie County School District Strives To Provide Career Opportunities To Students Through CTE Programs


Left to right: Pat Bertagnolli (Rough Rider Center), Kent Ellis (T4 Event: Tools, Trades, Torque and Tech), Joey Ferguson (WCHS student), Hailey Carns (WCHS student), Shannon Faller (Alexander High School), Scott Wisness (WCHS), Justin Johnsrud (WCHS), Rachel Meuchel (WCHS) and Dr. Steve Holen (WCHS).

Watford City High School hosted a Career and Technical Education (CTE) eeting Monday, Feb. 24. They celebrated successes of their current CTE program and discussed possible future programs.

At the meeting, attendees learned about the current CTE opportunities offered at Watford City High School and Alexander High School, heard from students participating in the CTE program, and learned about a possible future CTE program (including information on the Bismarck Career Academy and how Watford City could possibly have one in the future). Attendees also had the opportunity to tour the WCHS CTE and Corp. of Discovery classrooms.

"The purpose of the meeting was to showcase to the community the programs we are using to prepare our students for their futures, which can include going into the workforce or to post-secondary learning. With the activity in McKenzie County, we worked hard to develop opportunities to teach students the skills necessary to be a productive member of the workforce and to address the needs of that workforce," explained Alexander High School Principal, Shannon Faller.

Watford City High School was represented by Dr. Steve Holen, Rachel Meuchel, and Scott Wisness. Alexander High School was represented by Shannon Faller. The CTE program was represented by Hailey Carns and Joey Ferguson, who are current Cooperative Work Experience (CWE) students. Kent Ellis, Bismarck Career Academy, and Pat Bertagnolli talked about the Ambassador program.

Faller discussed the programs offered at Alexander High School. "Alexander currently has CTE programs in agriculture and FACS. We have seen the agricultural program expand student skills in preparation for life after high school. Many of our graduates have found their passion for welding or diesel mechanics through our agriculture program, and several of those students are now pursuing degrees in diesel mechanics or other majors at several state colleges. One specific way we generate that excitement and passion is by involving our community in the program. To achieve this, students become involved in our cooperative work experience or through our focus on community service. The CWE program allows students to use part of their day to work at a local business and learn essential skills specific to the industry. Our FACS program, as mentioned before, is still new, and with that, we are working to develop the curriculum in the way we have developed our agriculture program," added Faller.

Left to right: Watford City High School officials, Justin Johnsrud, Rachel Meuchel and Dr. Steve Holen, discuss the current CTE opportunities offered at Watford City High School.

Scott Wisness, WCHS CTE Department Chair, supervises the WCHS CWE program. "The CWE program can lead to a pathway in which students would be eligible for the CTE scholarship. Health Sciences is our newest program at the high school and has gained a lot of interest. A student can now take courses to prepare them specifically for the medical field and can complete the CWE program at the McKenzie County Hospital or Anova. Culinary Arts are also integrated within our FACS program, and students can take those classes to prepare to work at a restaurant for CWE. FACS also runs the school store, and it was also the first in the state to start Youth Entrepreneurs. Our Agriculture program has been progressive in utilizing a meats lab, CDL simulator, and high-tech equipment (laser engraver, 3D printer, vinyl cutter, plasma table). We are completing an addition to the meats lab, adding a greenhouse, and are partnering with Soil Conservation to have a high tunnel (which we received a USDA grant for). We started an Industry Skills class, which is closely connected to the energy industry in preparing students who plan to go directly into those career fields. Students can gain CWE credit for both Agriculture and Business/Marketing as in years past. Still, we are expanding to include even more businesses such as MBI, Delta, the Sheriff's Department, and more," said Wisness.

Wisness believes that the current CTE program has been very successful. "CTE programs provide students with valuable real-life and hands-on experience that they may not get in other classes. We provide the opportunity to participate in CTSOs (FFA, FCCLA, & DECA) that provide students with leadership and civic responsibility skills that have helped our current community leaders in the roles they are in now. I've also heard feedback from people within the community on how valuable the CWE program was for them in helping to have a job and career in their future. We are working to develop more structure with the program in having an outline for what students will learn in each CWE placement. Our Department also plans to develop pathways for students to take in preparation for careers."


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