ROCKLAND, Maine — February is National Career Technical Education Month, and to celebrate, teachers and staff at Mid-Coast School of Technology are bringing in industry experts to help students network.
Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin also visited the school on Thursday.
"You walk into a classroom. Nobody is sitting. Everybody is working on something," Makin said.
She also heard from students about their experiences with the trade school.
"I chose to actually come here freshman year because I knew about the med-sci and CNA program," Katelynn Colbry, a senior at Camden Hills Regional High School, said. She goes to the Mid-Coast School of Technology every other day.
She's in the CNA program and hopes to go to UMaine for equine sciences and eventually veterinary school.
But if that doesn't work out, "I love having that safety net that if something didn't work out, and my life plans changed, that I could just fall back and support myself," she said.
The number of students like Colbry enrolling in technical schools is rising.
There has been close to a 10 percent increase within the last two years, and there are now more than 9,100 students enrolled in the state's 27 career technical education schools.
Alyson Shook is also a Camden Hill senior. She added students aren't encouraged to get into the trades and instead are encouraged to apply for college.
"A lot of that is pushed on you even though a lot of kids aren't actually made for the writing and all the things that come with being in a four-year college," she said.
"It gives them the opportunity to experience a career field while they're still in high school before they've made the investment," Bobby Deetjen, director of Mid-Coast School of Technology, said.
Not only that, but it gives kids a chance to find something they like that they can make money doing while in a four-year college if they choose that path.