Students at Brunswick High School tried out their green thumbs recently, arranging flowers in horticulture class.
“This is the kind of stuff that gives you a break from book work,” Tori Poole, a 16-year-old junior, said Monday. “It can’t be wrong I guess it could be, but it usually isn’t. You can’t get a penalty for being yourself.”
The horticulture course is one of 110 Career and Technology Education [CTE] courses offered throughout Frederick County Public Schools, according to Kristine Pearl, a curriculum specialist with the Career and Technology program.
February is career and technology education month, according to the National Association for Career and Technical Education. The association reports that 18 of the 20 fastest-growing occupations within the next decade will require CTE skills to meet industry standards.
In Frederick County, the program encompasses 193 educators teaching 110 course offerings in 28 different programs. More than 16,000 students are enrolled in the programs, though the number doesn’t account for students who take multiple CTE courses, Pearl said.
Last year, one in five seniors was a CTE completer, meaning those students took at least four sequential CTE courses toward a specific program of study, she said.
The program covers several content areas, such as agricultural education, family and consumer science, information technology, technology education, transition education and trades and industry. Classes are offered in all 10 high schools, as well as the Career and Technology Center, with 22 program options in a variety of occupations.
“The purpose is to let the public be aware of everything we offer, and expose them to the opportunities we have for careers if they go the career and tech route,” Pearl said. “We can get career programs; in some you can get college credit. It’s an exposure to the broad opportunities to get them career and college ready. … It literally is the gamut. We can prepare our students for careers right out of high school.”
Brunswick horticulture teacher Mike Harrington, who also teaches classes in small engines and agriculture, said horticulture is his favorite subject to teach.
“Number one in my heart is horticulture,” said Harrington, who majored in horticulture at the University of Maryland. “I enjoy teaching how to grow plants. … I like hearing students learn about growing plants and arranging.”
Harrington said he enjoys being able to show students about horticulture through hands-on methods such as flower arranging and creating corsages and helping students find areas of education to excel in that they might not be exposed to in the traditional classroom.
“I look at this as a place for students to grow and discover; it’s a place for them to have success,” he said. “I have students who excel in this area. … All students have talents; being able to draw them out is key.”
Olivia Reid, a 16-year-old junior, said she enjoys the opportunity to work with flowers and be hands on, an opportunity she said she doesn’t get elsewhere.
“I love being able to make arrangements and flowers, because one of my options, when I finish school, is to work in a flower shop,” Reid said. “I haven’t always been into it. … You learn a lot about flowers and planting.”
Frederick County Public Schools will also celebrate technology education with the 19th annual Technology Fair on Feb. 23 at the Francis Scott Key Mall, 5500 Buckeystown Pike, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.