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Oak Harbor eighth-graders get a glimpse of future

Eighth-grader Anya Fortune shakes hands with a robot while visiting Career-Technical classes at Oak Harbor High School Monday. Looking on are students Katie Schisler, Maddie Harstad, Shayla Emmett and Michael Uttmark.  - Rebecca Olson / Whidbey News-Times
Eighth-grader Anya Fortune shakes hands with a robot while visiting Career-Technical classes at Oak Harbor High School Monday. Looking on are students Katie Schisler, Maddie Harstad, Shayla Emmett and Michael Uttmark.
— image credit: Rebecca Olson / Whidbey News-Times

For middle school students heading into high school, choosing classes from a long list can become more like “eeny meeny miny moe” than making educated choices. In order to help younger students decide which classes to register for, Oak Harbor High School students and staff invited the eighth-graders to tour the Career-Technical Education classes.

On Monday, 135 out of 180 Oak Harbor Middle School eighth-graders were bused to the high school for an afternoon of hands-on activity and education. Ninety-six North Whidbey Middle School students signed up to visit Feb. 11.

Since parents had to pick up the students later in the evening, it was a voluntary event.

Career-Technical classes at Oak Harbor High School are electives that give students free college credit. At the high school, uniformed NJROTC students ferried eighth-graders from classroom to classroom for nine-minute sessions. They toured the dark room in photography class and handled rifles with NJROTC students. Sparks flew in metal fabrication as high school students demonstrated welding.

Eighth-graders got a glimpse of real-world application of Career-Technical Education in the automotive class as students explained how the class will teach basic maintenance for students’ own cars.

In the culinary classroom, eighth-graders got a hands-on taste of what they could be doing next year by making cookies. Students also visited the school store and learned about business classes and the DECA club by making smoothies and slushies to pretend to sell to each other.

The robotics class was full of students playing with robots created and programmed by high school students. Smiles abounded as eighth-graders drove robots on the floor or shook hands with larger creations.

“It’s got to catch somebody,” Sandee Oehring, Career-Technical Education director, said of the variety of classes the students got to sample. Having these experiences allows eighth-graders to see what will happen in each class; before, they were only guessing when they registered, Oehring said.

Since this is the first time the high school has held an event like this, Oehring said she was hoping 100 students would attend. Instead, 135 registered.

“So we’re really excited,” she said.

So were the eighth-graders as they chatted about the experience afterward.

“I didn’t know what half the classes looked like,” Madison Gaber said. After the event, she said she was excited to see what each class entailed and especially to find out that DECA manages a student store.

Eighth-grader Gillian Crossley echoed Gaber’s feelings.

“They talked about things they do in each class,” Crossley said.

“Most of the time you know what the name is but not what you do,” said Shayla Emmett. “I feel like the electives are a lot more fun in high school.”

“And they involve you,” Gaber added.

Gaber said she would recommend that the event be repeated next year for future eighth-graders.

“It was really good, I think,” she said.

 

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