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Schools to expand Career and Technical Education program

Program enables students to have more work-based experience

The Cherry Hill school district offers a variety of career exploration courses, but in September, it will expand its Career and Technical Education (CTE) curriculum with two new programs at the high-school level, Design and Build and Business, Marketing and Finance.

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The move is a way to fulfill the district’s goal of providing resources, opportunities and experiences for students outside their classrooms. While electives will continue, students interested in the new programs will follow a three-year track designed to meet the state’s career cluster standards. 

The main difference between the CTE program and a career class as an elective is that the former requires more commitment, offers more opportunities for work-based experience and results in three college credits.

“In offering CTE, it does not take away the option for elective course offerings,” said Dr. Toni Damon, principal of Cherry Hill High School West and head of the advisory committee. “It’s not like a student has to be all or one. You can either elect to be a full CTE student or you might be a student who says, ‘I want to try a course,’ and that’s it.”

For the business track, students will have to take Intro to Business, Business Management or Entrepreneurship and Business Law. They will also receive shadowing/guest presentations in addition to completing an unpaid internship junior year and choosing a half-day work schedule in business during senior year. Students will be placed in an internship to work with partners like Jefferson Hospital. 

For the Drafting and Design technology track, students will have to take Intro to Engineering or Robotics in addition to Design/Build I, II and III – new classes that will be added next year. Structured learning experiences will also include shadowing/guest presentations, internships and a half-day work schedule in the industry during senior year.

“Parents should really take a serious look at this for their children and not think of it as the old vo-tech,” Damon noted. “This is a means to give children an edge. However, it’s important not to force children into it because we as adults think it’s best for them. 

“They have to have a passion for what they’re selecting.”

Combined with other AP courses, students have the potential to earn up to 36 college credits upon graduation, though Damon acknowledged that APs are not for everyone. Damon said in the future, the district hopes to create more CTE programs and it is receptive to student input regarding classes in which they would gain more experience.

The school board has also announced passage of its budget of $84.8 million for the 2022-’23 school year. It includes four additional classes for autistic support and four capital reserves projects in the works. The estimated tax impact will be $65.04 for the average assessed home of $226,400.

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