Although only in its second year, Sage Creek High School (SCHS) is well on its way to offering a comprehensive STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum for students who want to pursue careers in these fields. SCHS launched a biomedical science pathway last year, and has started up its engineering pathway this school year.
Through support from the Carlsbad Educational Foundation, the SCHS Foundation and the district, SCHS has implemented "Project Lead the Way" curriculum to integrate academic skills with challenging, hands-on career experiences. Led by Valerie Park, SCHS's Career Technical Education chairwoman and Tommy Gavilan, an engineering teacher, students have the opportunity to explore careers using equipment and technology designed for college and industry. In an engineering class, for example, students might be using CAD for measurement or graphic design. Biomedical students might use EKGs or blood pressure readings to explore what these measurements mean to health care professionals.
"The PLTW biomedical sciences career pathway has shown me some of the greatest wonders of innovation and science," says Alex Baratti, a student. "But perhaps the greatest innovation is the one humans didn't create, the human body. I've learned how the body works together and how it performs amazing things that no computer could possibly do. I want to create a startup that combines technology and medical to allow people to take control of diabetes."
In 2016-17, when SCHS welcomes its first senior class, students will be participating in a capstone course which will incorporate internships and workplace experiences in their fields of choice.
According to Cesar Morales, SCHS's principal, nearly 50 percent of Sage Creek's students are participating in either the Biomedical or Engineering STEM program.
Over at Carlsbad High School, teachers Jeff Brandmeyer, Shawn Jones, and Alexa Livingstone have pioneered another creative model for teaching students a rigorous academic curriculum while preparing them for careers. Integrating their academic knowledge with their love of film, these teachers have developed the CHS Film Academy. Students take English 2 and 3 and World and U.S. History with a film emphasis–studying a rigorous core curriculum while learning how a film works, how to construct a story, and how screenplays are written.
In their junior and/or senior years, students also take a Filmmaking class, where they create their own films.
Students make their own silent films, music videos, commercials, and films of their own choice. The program has obtained equipment such as cameras, lighting and sound equipment, green screens, and movie-making software, including Final Cut Pro.
The CHS Film Academy students are learning about film from both sides of the camera, and developing skills that will be assets if they go on to attend film schools or pursue careers in the film industry.
Both SCHS's Biomedical and Engineering programs and CHS's Film Academy are looking forward to working with the local business community to develop mentorships and internships for their promising students.
Additionally, CUSD is currently in the process of joining with 15 of the 18 high school districts in San Diego County and all five community colleges to submit an application for a California Career Pathways Trust grant. This grant would unite high school and post-secondary institutions with a focus on preparing students in unique ways with the cutting-edge skills needed to be successful in college and careers.
It will connect all participants with business and industry partners. Most importantly, the Career Pathways Trust grant engages K-12 and higher education in a commitment to developing excellent connections between education and the world of work to better prepare our students for the careers of the future.