Students and teacher with the Zamboni they created

Copper Country ISD Career & Technical Education (CTE) students work on real projects to often simulate what they can expect in postsecondary training and the work world. An example of the real-world project to benefit a community is when staff and students from the Automotive Technology and Welding/Manufacturing programs teamed up to design, manufacture, and build a working prototype for a local community ice rink. The prototype is a ice resurfacing machine a person hooks up to a hose and pulls behind them. The contraption leaves the ice much smoother than simply throwing water from a hose and letting gravity do the work of dispersing the water before it freezes. These types of real projects are what get the creative juices flowing for students and inspires change to benefit others. Projects like this are a real win for the educational environment, our industry partners, and the community as a whole for many reasons.

David Narhi, CTE Automotive Technology Instructor said, “there is a lot that goes into a project like this from designing and planning, to manufacturing the individual components, to then putting the pieces together takes time and skill. This project is something the students learned and gained skills from, but at the same time will be used by the community. The students should be proud of the work they did to benefit others.”.

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Bracken Lucas Welds while at Selkey Fabricators, LLC

Students take Career & Technical Education courses for many reasons. Some want to learn a skill they may use in their personal life, others want to try out this for free in high school as a potential career path, and others know this is their path and the CTE class is simply reinforcement. For Eric (Bracken) Lucas, the latter was indeed his choice and has opened doors for his future.

Bracken expressed that he always wanted to work in the off-shore drilling industry and was proud to come from Mississippi initially. Welding is an avenue to achieve his goal. Having access to a high-quality welding and manufacturing program in high school offered through the Copper Country ISD was the difference between a potential high school dropout and one who stayed in school for his chance to attend the CTE Welding/Manufacturing program.

I have always wanted to work in off-shore drilling but have always hated school. Taking this class has helped reinforce what I want to do and given me a purpose to get through school to do what I want to do in the future.

Bracken has gained firsthand industry experience through the program having a Work-Based Learning opportunity at Selkey Fabricators, LLC.

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Health Care: Leanna Miller, FNP

Leanne Miller diagnosing a patient with a stethscope

With most young students, it’s hard to know what to do with your future and it’s just a joy to decide. Thanks to the CTE classes offered by the CCISD, many students are given a step in the right direction and a helping hand toward a fulfilling career. Leanna Miller knew that she wanted to go to college after high school, but she didn’t know what she would pursue.

The CTE class, Nurse’s Aide, helped her decide. The instructor made the class very enjoyable and “really helped us learn the information. It wasn’t just about nursing; we had the opportunity to shadow other health care professionals that worked in areas of interest for us,” Miller says.

The CTE classes are very hands on. The students have the opportunity to shadow workers in the medical field, such as radiology technicians, physical therapists, and so many more. There is also on-the-job training involved with the CTE classes.

The classes provided Miller with the necessary interviewing skills to ensure she was comfortable in seeking a job. Because of this, she landed a job as a CNA almost immediately after high school, allowing her to do something she enjoys.

We had the opportunity to get real patient experience. This is, in my opinion, the most important part of the class. We worked with patients who required skilled nursing. This makes a huge difference.

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picture of paul roose

Starting his career with a CTE class that focused on welding and machining, Paul built on that to become successful.

Growing up on a farm, Paul’s father showed him important skills including welding, but he had no idea he could turn it into his career path. After determining that welding could be the career path he wanted to take, Paul says the CTE course he took in high school solidified it for him. The challenge that every project brought during the class was enjoyable and made him feel like he was always learning something new.

“My instructor was a huge part of why I decided to make welding and fabricating my career.” Paul speaks highly of his instructor from the CTE course and says he taught him to see his own potential and the potential of the career of welding.

My advice would be that if you were unsure of what to do after high school, gain a skill/trade. The CTE courses can lead you to a lifetime career or something to build on.

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ON THE ROAD: CC Ford Auto Technicians David Narhi & Tom Hicks

Tom and David Posing for picture

For David Narhi and Tom Hicks, the Auto Tech class offered at the CCISD was the first building block toward a lifelong career as automotive technicians at Copper Country Ford. They gained necessary knowledge and experience from taking their CTE class during their final two years of high school.

Tom, who always wanted to be an auto technician, got the opportunity to job shadow during his senior year of high school. He says, “That was a very good experience for me. I learned a lot from that experience.” Through a job work program, he landed a job even before he graduated. “The more you apply yourself, the more it helps you in the future. As an Auto Tech student, I learned not to take things for granted.”

The Auto Tech program and programs like it give students a hands-on oriented learning experience. This is an amazing opportunity if a student has interest in the area the class covers. These classes give useful information and a deeper look into the field, so students can see if that’s actually something they want to go into. If it is interesting to them, they can decide whether to pursue further education in the subject in college or a trade school, or find an entry level position in the trade.

Being in the Auto Tech class showed me that if I became knowledgeable enough in the automotive repair industry, I could make a decent living and have a job that is secure and steady.

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CTE, It Works: Carl Olson

picture of carl olson

Carl Olson, a senior at Chassell Township Schools, had known college wasn’t for him. He wanted to go into the trades. He had an idea which ones he would be interested in, but the specific trade was something he had to zero in on.

Mechanic work, welding, and machining are the things that interested Carl from a young age. Using his hands to make and fix things was something he enjoyed. Starting his junior year at Chassell, Carl took advantage of an opportunity to learn machining through the CCISD and L’Anse Area Schools.

The two-year machining program spends the first year learning machining and the second year at a local machine shop getting on-the-job experience in this trade. Due to the experience gained during this class Carl was offered a full-time job to start after graduation.

Being a CTE student allowed me to meet many people, create potential jobs, and build many ‘bridges’

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helping animals: Dr. Rebecca Vollrath

picture of Dr. Rebecca Vollrath

“I remember telling my third grade teacher that I wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up and never changed my mind,” tells Dr. Rebecca Vollrath, DVM CVA. Her love of animals pushed her into the field, but the versatility of the career captured her. Now working as a veterinarian at the Copper Country Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Vollrath is able to walk into new challenges every day at work.

Dr. Vollrath took part in the Health Careers program during her senior year of high school. She went into the class knowing what she wanted to do once she was out of school. Health Careers gave her access to shadow at the Copper Country Veterinary Clinic. She spent her clinical time in the local veterinarian offices observing different surgeries and medical procedures. These experiences helped her get established in the industry.

Being able to shadow at the Copper Country Veterinary Clinic during her clinical rotations proved to be worth it to Dr. Vollrath. After high school she was offered a job to be an assistant at the clinic. She worked there through her years at Michigan Tech and after completing her medical schooling, she was hired as a veterinarian.

I feel my CTE class was an important first step into my journey of becoming a veterinarian.”

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