Anne Arundel County Public Schools offers a unique opportunity for students to receive a technical education.
With over 15 programs to choose from, the Center of Applied Technology South (CAT South) in Edgewater offers students a hands-on and specialized education in a trade.
Broadneck and Severna Park high school students who enroll in the programs take their basic English, math, science and social studies classes at their “home school,” and are transported to the CAT South campus to learn their trade.
“I think this is the best type of education,” said CAT South Principal Joseph Rose. “I personally came through technical education, and after I graduated high school I was a carpenter for three and a half years. It really gives students a leg up and experience in whatever they choose. It allows them to connect the theory and the application.”
Throughout their education, students are prepared for the workforce in a big way. Resume writing, interviewing and character development are included in every course.
“We make sure we are preparing the whole child, not just aspects of the students,” said Rose. “It’s one of the things we are hearing back from our business partners that we work with on a regular basis. We ask, ‘Hey, what can we do to better prepare our students for you?’ and they tell us to work on the soft skills.”
Career Exploration allows ninth-grade students to rotate between four CAT South programs a semester. When it comes time to apply in the 10th grade, these students will already have an idea of what the programs are like.
“I mean, even if you just come here for fun, you’ll gain so many life skills,” said Severna Park junior Emily Crabill, who discovered her passion for carpentry through career exploration. “Learning how to change a tire and cooking, all of that is life skills that are good to have under your belt. Even if you don’t pursue a career in them, it’s just fun and hands on.”
Academy of Health Professions
Cailyn Dove and Grace Kinuthia of Broadneck High School are in the first level of the two-step Academy of Health Professions program. The first level, called medical terminology, partners with Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) to award students with college credits as they complete the program.
“I’m not saying it’s not a challenging course, because it is a very difficult course, but because I’m so interested in the class, it makes it easier for me to learn,” said Dove, who aspires to be an anesthesiologist.
The Academy of Health Professions prepares students to be skilled health care professionals. Students who complete this program will have the opportunity to become certified nursing assistants or geriatric nursing assistants, certified clinical medical assistants, and obtain CPR and first aid certifications. Students undergo 40 hours of clinical training at Ginger Cove in Annapolis and shadowing at Anne Arundel Medical Center.
“In clinical, we get to go out and actually talk to nurses and patients,” said Dove. “I think that’s the most interesting stuff. I want to know what I should be prepared for, and I feel like I’ll learn more from actually doing it then I do in the classroom.”
Though the first year of the program is mostly book work, Kinuthia said she was excited to learn more about health and the body.
“The coolest thing was studying the heart, because that’s what I want to do when I grow up. It was challenging because it was a lot of information, but it was interesting,” said Kinuthia.
When Crabill completed the career exploration program, she had already fallen in love with the carpentry program.
“College was never a big deal to me,” said Crabill. “My mom actually convinced me to put down carpentry as a ninth grader because she said, ‘We used to have shop class and it was so useful.’ I tried it out and it ended up being my favorite.”
Students in the carpentry program are automatically enrolled in AACC, where they will earn credits toward the architectural materials and methods class.
For Crabill, the best part of the program is the projects.
“We got to make heron decoys and donated them to people in the community. When we had the field trips going on, the parents were like, ‘How can I buy one of those?’ That is so cool to know I was a part of that,” said Crabill.
At the end of this school year, Crabill will have completed both levels of the carpentry program, but she is looking forward to working in this field for the rest of her life.
Marine Service Technology
Broadneck senior Adam Steen grew up boating with his father. When he learned about the Marine Service Technology program at CAT South, it seemed like a perfect fit.
“I don’t like sitting down in a classroom or office, so any chance to work near the water and with my hands; I kind of wanted to avoid that typical desk job in a cubicle and I love being by the water,” said Steen.
The Marine Service Technology program prepares students for a career in recreational and commercial boat building and repair. Students cover everything from marine electrical systems to basic sailboat rigging within the two-level course.
“There are so many projects, and we are always getting something new,” said Steen. “My favorite is probably learning about the engines. We completely take apart and reassemble the engines.”
Upon graduating this spring, Steen is going to college to study ocean engineering to work on large-scale commercial boats. He is considering looking into the designing.
“I think it’s a great opportunity that not everyone has,” said Steen of his time at CAT South. “Being able to have this experience now helps you with jobs in the future and prepares you for life.”
Cole Kraycik of Severna Park was already pursuing a job in the automotive field when he learned about the programs at CAT South.
“When I found out there was a class to teach me how to work on car, I figured that was a dream for me,” said Kraycik. “I found out about it when we were going on tours, and I realized how special this program really is.”
The Auto Technology Program is certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) and teaches students to diagnose, repair and service vehicles. College credit is also awarded through the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC).
“I decided to do a technical education because I find working with my hands more interesting and easier to learn than from a book or a classroom. This environment is really helpful for that,” said Kraycik, who is looking forward to working in this field after graduation.
“If this is what interests you, then you should just go for it,” said Kraycik. “You can always go to college or technical school after high school, but I say get the hands-on experience now.”
Beginning in February of 2020, CAT South will offer a plumbing program. For more information, visit catsouth.org.