Blue Ridge and Henderson Schools Event Promotes Career Exploration

Above: Middle school students from Henderson County Public Schools learn about automotive professions during the April 8 CTE Middle School Day at Blue Ridge Community College. (Photo: Benjamin Rickert)

A joint press release from Blue Ridge Community College and Henderson County Public Schools.

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. – On Friday, April 8, 180 seventh-graders in Career & Technical Education (CTE) courses received an immersive, early intro to career pathways they can pursue at the high school level and beyond.

A collaboration between Henderson County Public Schools (HCPS) and Blue Ridge Community College, “CTE Middle School Day” brought 45 students from each of HCPS’ four middle schools onto Blue Ridge’s Henderson County campus. Students explored the College’s Horticulture, Automotive, Coding/Computer Programming, Engineering/Advanced Manufacturing, and apprenticeship programs. They also learned about classes available to high schoolers pursuing CTE Career Pathways.

Through Blue Ridge’s Career and College Promise (CCP) program, high school students have three pathways toward tuition-free college credit. First, students can earn a high school diploma and associate degree simultaneously through HCPS’ Henderson County Early College. Second, the College Transfer Pathway allows juniors and seniors to earn credits toward an associate in arts, science, engineering, or nursing; these credits are eligible for transfer to four-year NC public universities and various independent colleges. Finally, the CTE Education Pathway gives students a jump start on learning a trade through a professional certificate or credential.

“Any student who plans to further their education or pursue a trade after high school can benefit from the Career and College Promise program,” said Kirsten Bunch, Blue Ridge Vice President for Student Services. “Our College helps high school students gain the skills, credentials, and credits they need to be ready for life after graduation.”

HCPS educators want students to consider their options well before high school.

“Being introduced to these opportunities at this age provides students extra planning time and further investigation prior to registering for their freshman classes,” said Lana Bradley, HCPS Career Development Coordinator for middle schools.

The seventh-graders were also introduced to their high school Career Development Coordinators, who told them about the internships and apprenticeships available in high school through existing partnerships between HCPS, Blue Ridge, and local industries. 

Scott Moore, HCPS Director of Middle Schools & CTE, explained that the state is emphasizing the expansion of career awareness and exploration activities into the middle grades – and today’s event exemplifies the educational partnerships that best serve students and build stronger workforces. 

“Activities like ‘CTE Middle School Day’ at Blue Ridge are so valuable because they allow middle school students to see several Career Pathways in action,” Moore said. “This gives them a more diverse body of experiences to draw from as they begin scheduling high school courses and moving in the direction of their chosen career path.”

For information about available CTE opportunities in HCPS middle and high schools, students and parents can contact their school’s Career Development Coordinator or check out the HCPS Virtual Career Center. For information about enrolling as a high school student in Career and College Promise at Blue Ridge Community College, students and parents should contact their high school counselor or a Blue Ridge Career Coach.