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ALTON - Kaleb Smith, the Director of Career and Technical Education for Madison County, and Mike Brey, an Assistant Principal, and director of the Alton High CTE program both served as key hosts in a Media Day Tour of the CTE program held at Alton last week.

The tour was available to local legislators and media to allow the opportunity to see the students and programs in action by bringing them into their classrooms and facilities. The event was also led by leaders of Alton's CTE programs showcasing students and the skills they have learned in their respective programs.

These were the CTE programs that will be either toured or highlighted on the day of the tour:

• Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources

• Architecture & Engineering

• Arts, Audio/Video Technology, and Graphic Design

• Automotive Technology

• Business, Management, and Administration

• Computer Networking & Programming

• Construction

• Culinary

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• Textiles

• Early Childhood Education

• Welding

Brey said Alton has the second-largest CTE program outside of Collinsville. He said Alton's program is one of the biggest in Southern Illinois.

"We have a lot of great kids and teachers in the programs," he said. "I am proud of the wide variety of different offerings for students in the CTE program. We have everything from industrial arts, architecture, design, agriculture, consumer science, and much more. Our FCLA Chapter is the largest in the state of Illinois."

Brey said a big attempt is made to educate seventh and eighth-grade students about the potential CTE classes they can take once they get into Alton High.

Brey and Smith stressed CTE provides many opportunities for the future of students, some of who may go directly into a trade, and get an associate's degree or a four-year degree, but it provides different options.

Brey stressed the amount of students in classes is very important because often grants are based on numbers, which makes it important to reach the eighth-graders prior to high school.

Smith said the CTE programs are economic drivers that give opportunities for students to find something they are passionate about and make a long-term pathway.

"For some students, it may be college, but for others, it may be a five-year union apprenticeship program. Others could want to receive an associate's degree or a four-year degree. This provides students different opportunities and education to meet their needs."

Smith said one of his worries for the future is to continue to find qualified instructors. He said the instructors along with the students are needed to make the CTE work the way it does in the area.

He also encouraged businesses and industries to contact him if they want to look at ways to partner with CTE, either through an equipment donation, a direct financial donation, or educating the students on what opportunities they might have for the future.

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