Rye Lake students take part in Middle School Week at CTE campus

SWBOCES offers opportunity to explore Career Tech options to its own students

students hold and discuss ratRye Lake Campus Middle School student Aidan Morrison made his second visit to Southern Westchester BOCES’ Career and Technical Education campus in Valhalla on March 20 to learn about the programs offered here. 

He took part in the campus’s Middle School Week, and donned chef’s attire to learn how to bake a pan pizza. Last summer he visited the automotive program and learned about how to perform an oil change and install new tires on a car. 

“I like to cook, and I definitely like cars,” said Aidan, who is still undecided what career path interests him most.

Classmate Jace Thomas who joined him, said he is already thinking about a culinary career so this was a great opportunity to learn more firsthand. “I want to learn how to bake cookies because I want to be a chef,” Jace said.

The purpose of Middle School Week is to invite students to learn about the different career programs that are offered and to introduce them to SWBOCES while they are in the 7th and 8th grades, said Counselor Anna Macchia.

boy shows off snakeThe visiting students, who come from New Rochelle, Irvington, SWBOCES and other districts in the region, shadowed CTE students to see firsthand what attending programs at the Valhalla campus is like. 

They also got to take part in hands-on instructional activities. For example, those visiting Culinary Arts made pan pizzas. Those visiting Cosmetology got to work with the mannequins students use to style hair.

It’s very exciting for them, said Ms. Macchia. The program has grown over the years, from a handful of students attending to more than 200 this week. The idea is to get them thinking about the CTE path earlier so they have more time to consider whether it is the right fit for them. Typically, outreach is to high school students prior to their junior year.

“This is an extension of the outreach we normally do,” Ms. Macchia said. “This puts the idea in their heads at a younger age that we exist as an option they can explore.”

chef instructs students in kitchen

Including the students from Rye Lake Campus is a natural extension of that, she said, allowing BOCES’ own students to benefit from the same message about career options and the opportunity to learn career skills when they’re still in high school. 

Rye Lake Social Studies Teacher Tiziana Demasi watched as her students were introduced to a milk snake and a baby python. They didn’t show the least bit of trepidation at the animals slithering through their hands and in some cases behind their heads.

This is a great way to see that veterinary science is about more than just petting animals, Ms. Demasi said.

“I hope this opens up their eyes to the opportunities that we offer to them that they can try,” she said.