K-64 brings education, business, and government together to connect people of all ages with the skills needed to fill jobs and build careers in Catawba County.

As we bid farewell to CTE Month, K-64 takes a moment to reflect on the standout moments from February. Governor Cooper’s official declaration marked the celebration of Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month in North Carolina schools, aimed at raising awareness about the various opportunities within the program.

Student works on a car at St. Stephen's High School.

Student works on a car at St. Stephen’s High School.

CTE, an acronym for Career and Technical Education, encompasses a diverse range of classes, from Animal Science, Carpentry, and Welding to Interior Design and Computer Science. Throughout the month, K-64 explored CTE classes in Newton-Conover City, Catawba County, and Hickory City Schools to gain insights into the community’s CTE initiatives.

The visit uncovered several key aspects of CTE classes in our community. These classes serve as a platform for students to explore different careers before committing to post-graduation education. They introduce students to the array of local career and education opportunities, employ hands-on learning methods, and provide a refreshing break from traditional academic subjects.

During our visit to Newton-Conover High School, students in Adobe Visual Design I shared their motivations for taking the class. “I really like digital art and think it is an interesting field. I find that I have more freedom working in digital platforms like Photoshop,” Chloe H. (11). “I took the Adobe video class my sophomore year and enjoyed being able to explore Adobe Suite. I like that I can brainstorm ideas and visualize them by using Adobe programs,” Nate C. (11).

Fifth graders from Shuford Elementary visit Newton-Conover High School to learn more about CTE classes. Here they are learning about drone classes.

Fifth graders from Shuford Elementary visit Newton-Conover High School to learn more about CTE classes. Here they are learning about drone classes.

Career and Technical Education curriculum starts in the fifth grade for North Carolina students and in Newton-Conover students are introduced to various careers through hands-on projects. Shuford Elementary’s fifth graders delved into healthcare careers while learning about human anatomy. Student’s also visited Newton-Conover High School to gain insights on potential CTE classes for their high school years, including drones, foods, nursing, adobe, and computer science.

Meanwhile, Newton-Conover Middle School showcased a CTE gallery walk, combining CTE Innovators and Black History Month. Students created posters featuring influential black innovators, engaging in a walk to learn about each innovator’s societal impacts.


Our exploration extended to three high schools in the Catawba County School system—St. Stephen’s, Maiden, and Fred T. Foard. Each school offered a diverse range of CTE programs, showcasing students’ enthusiasm for the opportunities provided.

Chloe L. (12) from Maiden Nursing fundamentals emphasized the benefits of CTE, “I wanted to get a head start on nursing and see if it is a career path I would enjoy. My favorite part is that it is a small class and we get more hands-on learning time. Taking measurements and vitals has been my favorite thing I’ve learned since it is a skill that can be used in any department of healthcare.” The nursing fundamentals course, exclusive to seniors, offers clinical experiences at local facilities and the potential to graduate with a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license.

Chicken coop built by Carpentry students for Animal Science classes at Fred T. Foard High School.

Chicken coop built by Carpentry students for Animal Science classes at Fred T. Foard High School.

St. Stephen’s High School combines skill with community outreach, partnering with Hartman’s Haven to build dog houses for displaced dogs. Through this project, students will construct dog houses for those affected by the storms in Claremont in early January. Fred T. Foard High School showcased the collaboration between their carpentry and animal science classes, emphasizing the interconnectedness of different trades within the community.


Arndt Middle Students participate in Paxton/Patterson Labs.

Arndt Middle students participate in Paxton/Patterson Labs.

Catawba County School’s inaugural year of the Paxton/Patterson program added a new dimension to CTE. This hands-on, career-focused initiative allows middle school students to explore various careers through engaging labs. Arndt middle school’s labs, covering Drones, Pharmacology, Biological Engineering, Dentistry, Design, and more, demonstrated the success of hands-on learning in CTE, providing students with a taste of different career options before entering high school.

Vanique P. (11) at Bottega Internship

Vanique P. (11) at Bottega Internship.


At Hickory High School CTE extends beyond the classroom with student interns. Students have access to a variety of work-based learning opportunities from working in healthcare, exploring trades like HVAC or plumbing, and learning the ins and outs of owning a business. Junior, Vanique P., shares her experience as an intern for the boutique store, Bottega, in downtown Hickory, “I wanted to have an internship to learn about business and communication hospitality. I am planning to have a small business myself and this experience teaches me how to deal with people and customer service. I enjoy modeling, putting outfits together, and being creative.”

Drone students practice flying a drone outside.

Meanwhile, Hickory Career & Arts Magnet (HCAM) takes a distinctive approach to education, placing a strong emphasis on hands-on learning that aligns with students’ career interests. Offering an array of career-ready courses, HCAM ensures students are well-prepared for their chosen paths. Whether it’s EMT training, Adobe Suite certifications, nursing fundamentals, or Python coding, HCAM provides a diverse range of courses catering to the varied interests of its students. Notably, students enrolled in the drone course at HCAM have the unique opportunity to obtain a 107 Commercial Drone Pilot license, opening doors to exciting possibilities in the rapidly evolving field of drone technology.

CTE Month has not only been a celebration of career and technical education but a testament to its impact on students, fostering early exploration, and collaboration while preparing them for future success. K-64 looks forward to continuing its support for CTE initiatives in Catawba County.


Be sure to visit K-64 on Instagram and Facebook to see all of the #CTEMonth highlights. Special thanks to Newton-Conover City Schools, Catawba County Schools, and Hickory City Schools for welcoming K-64 into your CTE classes!