February is CTE Month and Prescott High School has students that are already earning money while they are learning in high school classes. CTE stands for Career and Technical Education and prepares students for high wage and high demand careers. Students are learning about Film and TV, Automotive, and Digital Communications, taking what they have learned in the classroom, and earning a paycheck.
Meet Mason Pennington. He is a senior at PHS, in his 3rd year of CTE classes, with an already impressive resumé. Mason is currently working for FloodStream, which films the NAZ Suns basketball team at Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. He has also worked on the live production of Dancing for the Stars for the Boys and Girls Club fundraiser in 2018 and recently worked on set of a show promo for the Outdoor Channel. When he is not working, he is preparing to receive a certificate for Adobe Premiere and passing his CTE state Film and TV certificate in high school. After graduation, he has plans to work in the film and broadcast industry.
Or meet Ashlyn Cumming. She is only a junior at PHS and in her 3rd year of Film and TV courses. She is currently working at Yavapai College Performing Arts Center as a stage technician and camera operator on the payroll. She has completed media jobs for the Prescott Unified School District, including the welcome back to school convocation video for two years running. She also worked on the Dancing for the Stars live production event in 2018. Ashlyn plans to pass her Adobe Premier Certificate and her state Film and TV certificate, graduating from PHS a year early. The future is wide open for her as she seeks a career in the media industry.
Finally, meet Matthew Strittmatter. He is only a freshman and is currently in the Media Technology course. Showing initiative in his interest in media, he is now working for Prescott Media Center running the camera during live streaming of Prescott High School sporting events.
Those are just a few students, but there are more such as Cheyla Daverman, Sara Hagen, Lleyton Howard, Josh Zaryczny, and Ben Minkler -- all learning and earning their way through PHS and CTE using the various media and workplace skills taught in Badger Media Studios, the student media lab at Prescott High School.
Robyn Bryce, PHS FIlm/TV teacher, said, “CTE provides students experiences and opportunities that they will not find in a traditional classroom. My program is part of the emerging technologies cluster. Students are learning skills and processes that are currently being developed in the industry, or will be developed within the next five to ten years. My classes literally are preparing kids for the future, and it is definitely working. We can see the results in all the students who are being hired right out of, or while still, in the program. I am so proud of what we are providing our students; it is unlike anything else in the area, and we only have more growth on the horizon with amazing community partnerships, supportive administration and the passion and commitment of the students.”
Many local businesses and organizations in Prescott have turned to Badger Media Studios for interns and employees. When asked why he hires high school students, Rob Milligan, General Manager of the non profit Prescott Media Center, responded, “High school students are so driven to complete tasks despite their age, they are more reliable ... I see that they are being trained to embrace the current media, not shun away from it … [PHS] kids just get it and they listen well. Why wouldn't someone want to hire them?”
It is the community partnerships that make Badger Media Studios all the more successful. Josh Orlando, Multi Media Supervisor for Boys and Girls Club of Central Arizona, related, “When we (Boys and Girls Club of Central Arizona) started the project with Robyn Bryce 3 years ago, she had a very ambitious idea about building a robust film/broadcast/radio media program that would allow kids to build skills enabling them to progress into professional job placements in their respective industries. We were able to climb some serious mountains through focusing our efforts on building partnerships with local foundations, other non-profit entities, as well as local businesses. I’m happy to say I think we are now seeing the results of the program’s beginning coming to fruition, and it is performing beyond our initial expectations. It’s very exciting to see what the future holds with some of the new directions and opportunities we as a community are coming together to build for our young artists, technicians and engineers.”
Bryce’s Film and TV program isn’t the only one to churn out future wager earners; Automotive, Digital Communications, and Networking are all producing viable industry certified workers, and this is advantageous as a quick search on major job sites reveals an abundance in employment opportunities for graduates in skills-driven careers. In the meantime, while students wait to cross the graduation threshold, employment with industry partners during high school offer students experiences to build competencies. “Learning and Earning” opportunities in Career and Technical Education at Prescott High School prepare today’s students for the world of tomorrow.