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DCSD high school students gaining hands-on technical skills

By Mindy Stone; courtesy photo

Photo of ProStart students working in the culinary lab kitchen at ThunderRidge High School.

ProStart students working in the culinary lab kitchen at ThunderRidge High School.

Sophia Persichitte has a passion for cooking and dreams of opening a restaurant. She is in her second year of ProStart Culinary arts at ThunderRidge High School, even though she is a senior at Rock Canyon High School.

“When I heard about it [the program], I was nervous to go to another school, but it’s a good opportunity to be able to meet new people and get credit for something you enjoy doing,” said Persichitte.

Culinary arts is one of 67 different Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs Douglas County School District offers throughout its nine traditional high schools.

“We have tons of programs, and the majority of our programs also offer industry certification,” said Joy Griffins, Career and Technical Education Director.

Students like Persichitte can choose to enroll in courses not offered within their home high school. They work with counselors to fit it into their schedule and must provide their own transportation.

“They can go anywhere they want to go,” said Griffins. “We don’t want to hinder any kid just because of where their home school is. We want to make sure our CTE programs are available to all students.”

Each high school has a specialty program. For example, Rock Canyon offers fire science, Ponderosa specializes in automotive, and Douglas County offers agriculture.

“Auto and welding have certification. Once they graduate, they can go to work at a Jiffy Lube and start doing oil changes,” commented Griffins.

Automotive is the most popular followed by fire science, EMT and cosmetology.

“We have wait lists for those,” said Griffins, “The biggest problem we have is we have so many kids that want to be in our programming.”

The program is growing thanks to the 2018 bond that was approved by voters.

“I’d like to thank our voters because the only way we can renovate our programs and build and add new programming is because of the funds we received through 5A and 5B,” concluded Griffins.

Persichitte has not decided what she’s going to do after graduation. Gaining hands-on experience in culinary arts has been a great opportunity to prepare for her future.

“It’s not only that you’re learning how to cook, but you’re also learning how to do the business part of it too.”



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