ORANGE COUNTY, V.A. (WVIR) - Orange County High School is listening to the many students who say they learn better when classes are hands-on and get them actively involved in the lesson. Administration expanded the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program to offer students more options.
A lot of the learning that goes on at Orange County High School does not happen in a traditional classroom setting. Instead, students are surrounded with high tech gear and a lot of tools that looked way more advanced than when many of us were in school.
Jafet Vazquez is a senior at Orange County High School. He wants to be an engineer. That's one of the reasons he decided to take a robotics class this year.
“The fact that it’s a class now - I think is amazing. It makes it easier to work on the robot, you have more time. You’re able to work with a larger group,” Vazquez said.
Robotics is one of the classes offered at the Hornet's Center for Innovation.
“We have digital design mechatronics. We have cybersecurity. We have robotics, carpentry,” Principal of OCHS Wendell Green said.
Some of those subjects were offered in previous years but the school recently overhauled its CTE program.
“So we took separate programs and kind of melded them all together and connected them so students can see the connections in the classes as well,” Director of Secondary Instruction Renee Honaker said.
Staff say they wanted to invest in more collaborative, experiential learning.
“If you look at our workforce today it’s all about problem-solving and working together and communicating collaborating and these types of classes allow students to do that,” Honaker said.
“As we see a bigger desire for this, then that provides an opportunity for us to connect with the community because they can see what is being offered to our students here,” Green said.
The renovation and expansion of the CTE Program and innovation center was a huge investment.
“One of the things that that we did this we used our Perkins Grant that most schools get for CTE programs, and we focused it in the area of technology for about three years,” Honaker said.
Students say it was money well spent.
“This class inspired, even more, the passion I already had for engineering and I can’t wait to go to Virginia Tech and start learning about mechanical and aerospace engineering,” Vazquez said.
Staff say they plan on further expanding this program to offer even more career paths. The school also has a CTE liaison that helps connect students in the program with job opportunities and internships with businesses and organizations in the community.