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Career Education Program prepares students for life after high school

Wednesday, January 11, 2017
 Career Education Program prepares students for life after high school

Centerville High School students are getting a leg up when it comes to preparing for college and careers with the opportunity to enroll in courses offered through the Career Education Program.

“Career education has really changed over the past 10-15 years,” said Craig Suttman, who is in the midst of his fifth year as Centerville’s Career Education principal. “It has steered away from trades to more of a college prep program.”

This week, CHS sophomores are attending a Career Expo to look into the program, which is offered jointly among Centerville, Fairmont and Oakwood High Schools. Twelve courses are offered at Centerville – Biotechnology, Business, Communication Arts (Broadcast Management), Culinary Arts, Early Childhood Education, Engineering, Environmental Science, Exercise Science, Information Technology, Marketing, Mass Communication (Print/Broadcast Journalism) and Technical Theatre. An additional four classes are offered at Fairmont – Allied Health, Automotives, Construction and Digital Design – with a fifth, Fire Science, being added in the 2017-18 school year.

According to Suttman, all of these options give students the chance to explore careers, which many go on to pursue in college. More than 475 CHS juniors and seniors are currently enrolled in the program, and several are participating in the Career Expo to answer questions from sophomores who are interested in their field of study.

“These courses really put students a step ahead in college,” Suttman said. “It can strengthen their notion that this is what they want to go into or even show them that they want to pursue a different career path.”

According to Suttman, after attending the Career Expo, sophomores will fill out an application, and then teachers will conduct interviews before accepting students into their program. Each Career Education course, with the exception of Marketing, covers two class periods, and students are often able to earn college credit while still in high school. In addition, each student who completes the program earns a $3,000 scholarship to Sinclair Community College.

Engineering teacher Dan Stacy has seen many of his students go on to obtain degrees in that field. In fact, 100 percent of this year’s seniors have plans to major in engineering at a four-year university.

“This is a program where you can actually see and feel the applications of STEM, both academic and applied,” said Stacy, adding that his students use manufacturing applications, math and physics to develop engineering fundamentals. “It really gives students a good head start in their college engineering classes.”

Another benefit is the opportunity for teachers and students to develop partnerships with businesses in the Dayton area. Each program has an advisory board that provides expertise in their subject. Maria Whitaker, who teaches the exercise science class, has worked with a number of supportive community groups to provide real world observations for her seniors. This way, students can see firsthand if this is truly an area that fits as a potential career.

“The students get to basically interview each person they shadow to learn the in and out and ups and downs of the career field,” Whitaker said, noting that at most colleges and universities, students don’t even get to observe in the field of their major until after their freshman year or even later.

“It is wonderful to see students eyes just light up when they return from internships and get to discuss with the class the awesome things they observed and learned about,” Whitaker said. “I have students that confirm what they thought they were going to pursue and students that decide after internships that they want to go in a different direction, but either way the students are absolutely so grateful for the opportunity.”

Senior marketing student Riley Laipple has enjoyed working closely with her classmates and meeting new people, along with developing skills she feels will be an asset in college.

“This class has helped me become a good public speaker and has given me a good perspective on marketing,” said Laipple, who plans to major in marketing at the University of Cincinnati. “As I prepare for college, I’ll have a lot of knowledge compared to people who are just learning about marketing in college.”

Junior Caroline DuPuy agreed that experiences gathered in the Career Education Program impact students beyond the classroom.

“I really enjoy the family aspect of it because we spend so much time together,” said DuPuy, who is in her first year of the Culinary Arts program and hopes to open her own restaurant one day. “The program has given me a lot of good hands-on experience to prepare me for the career I want to pursue.”

Visit for more information about the Career Education Program.

Centerville City Schools serve more than 8,100 students in Centerville and Washington Township in southwest Ohio, offering a variety of educational programs to a diverse student population. The district operates 13 school buildings, as well as two preschools and a bus facility accommodating and servicing more than 100 buses. Visit for more information.

Note: Additional photos from the Career Expo are available at here to view the student-produced "Elkonian Extra" on the Career Education Program.

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