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WE Expect Excellence: Career Encounters

On a rainy fall afternoon on the PCC Rock Creek campus, students with the Career Encounters class are in the "Hangar." The large building on the northeast corner of campus houses the aviation science classes. Larry Altree, who has been flying planes longer than these students have been walking the Earth, is teaching the students how to make a flight plan.

This is the first year of the Career Encounters class at PCC. For two hours, two days a week, over 11 weeks, students have the opportunity to explore career technology education (CTE) programs. The idea for the class came from conversations between Early College High School staff and department chairs at Portland Community College.

Students start in a Career Guidance class. After that, they attend four sessions in Autobody Repair, Aviation Science, Diesel and Welding. They wrap up the course with another Career Guidance class, where they do career-related research and reflections.

Junior Meaghan Avila first learned about the course through her parents. "It sounded fun, something I had never done and it wasn't a typical high school class. It put me where fellow high school students wanted to learn something new and be productive with their time.

Meaghan says the first weeks of the course have been exactly what she expected, a lot of hands-on experience in fields she had never heard of or experienced. "It has shown me possible future classes to take and new ideas for jobs," says Meaghan.

Early College High School Principal Andrew Cronk hopes this is just the beginning and is looking to expand the class to include an engineering focus by spring.

While Career Encounters is based at PCC, it is not for Early College High School students. It is open to juniors and seniors from the District's five comprehensive high schools and Community School.