CTE: Chase Ray prepares for a career in welding.

February 24, 2015
Chase Ray

Chase Ray

VICTORY TWP. – Most high school students go to school on a daily basis without really knowing what direction they want to go after they graduate. Some may think a four year degree is the right path for them and others may feel like college isn’t in their future and they want to go directly into the workforce. Many students fall in the middle and realize that they do not want that four-year experience, but they need some type of hands-on training to get them the job that they truly want. Career and Technical Education could be the right fit for that student.

The programs offered through the West Shore Educational Service District’s Career and Technical Education located at West Shore Community College give high school juniors and seniors that hands-on and real life job experience that sets them up for joining the workforce or entering into a trade school, where they can finish the training they started while still in high school.

Senior Correspondent Kate Krieger took some time to visit all 12 of the CTE courses, along with students from each of the courses to get to know them and to see why each of them chose to attend CTE.

Ludington High School senior, Chase Ray, 18, is a CTE student, who attends the welding program in the morning and the mechatronics program in the afternoon. Chase has completed all of his high school credits, except for English, which he takes first hour at LHS and then attends CTE the rest of the day. When he’s not involved playing football and wrestling for Ludington, Chase said he enjoys doing a lot of hands-on things and always has.

“I was that kid taking apart his toys,” he said. “My brother and I are very hands-on people.”

Chase’s twin brother, Griffin also attends the afternoon mechatronics program at CTE and he attended the welding program last year.

When looking at his future after high school, Chase knew that he wanted to do something on more of the trade side of things. Living in Riverton Township, he has become very familiar with the wind turbines, making him very interested in how they work. Chase plans on attending the Michigan Institute of Aviation Technology near Detroit when he’s done with high school.

“The program is all hands-on,” he said. “I know there’s a future for it and it’s not going to go away anytime soon.”

Stating that there can only be so many doctors and lawyers in the world, Chase said that there really needs to be more people going into welding or technical fields. He believes that pretty soon we might see a real need for more people working in manual labor. Without programs like CTE, a lot of students wouldn’t be able to be exposed to the option of going into a trade instead of a possible four-plus-year degree field.

“There can only be so many doctors,” he said. “They need more welders. I read somewhere that for every 100 welders that will retire, only 50 will fill those empty positions. Welding has really well paying jobs.”

Chase said that he is very grateful for the opportunities he’s had so far at CTE and really thinks more students need to come check it out as a possible option during high school, even if they don’t want to major in any of the areas that are offered.

“It’s a hands-on learning environment,” he said. “You get to learn things here that you’ll never learn in a traditional school setting. It really will further my education. It’s a good place to start.”

The staff at CTE has been a large part in Chase’s education this year and he said that they all are extremely supportive of all the students who attend the programs.

“The teachers give you free range with most things,” he said. “They show you how to do things, but then just let you go do it. All the instructors are nice, fun guys. They are helpful and you get to have freedoms in doing things. Mr. (Dan) Nelson (welding instructor) is a very nice guy. He likes to joke around with us a lot.”

Chase said he really decided to attend CTE when he visited the programs on a tour in middle school and he’s very glad he stuck to his decision.

“I never would have learned to use these things if I wouldn’t have come here,” he said. “It feels like a good preparation. It’s really fun.”


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