The year 2020 started with a push for vocational education and hands-on learning, but this has been made difficult by COVID-19 threats and students forced into online education at home.
More than 60 percent of students at Wheeling Park High School are involved in career-based training classes at the school, according to Stephanie Bugaj, director of career and technical education at WPHS.
She said the district is looking to step up at-home opportunities for vocational students as their return to classrooms and school workshops may be further delayed this fall.
“Teachers are communicating with students, and trying to keep them engaged,” Bugaj said. “They can do a lot of skills at home. We’re trying to come up with things for them to do this fall.”
There are on-line instructional classes for students in most vocational areas, and they can replicate what they see by working on projects at home, she said.
While students finished out the just completed school year at home, teachers offered them extra credit for doing projects at home that displayed skills they were learning. Most took advantage, according to Bugaj.
There were 896 students involved in vocational education at WPHS last year, representing about 60 percent of the student population, she said.
There are classes at the school in automobile technology and collision repair technology. Students also can take classes in machine tool technology and computer systems repair technology.
Carpentry and graphic design classes are offered in the CTE department.
Beyond those classes, there are educational opportunities in accounting and administrative support, education, criminology, family and consumer science, restaurant management, therapeutic services and personal fitness and wellness training.
The areas all provide learning of skills that are needed in today’s society, and which often pay well for students right out of high school.
“We still need people to fix our cars,” Bugaj said. “Our programs are full, and our students are getting jobs.”