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March 27, 2023

SBHS CTE program offers various career pathways

Courtesy of San Benito High School Superintendent Shawn Tennenbaum

Dear San Benito High School Parents, Students and Community:

San Benito High School’s vibrant and growing Career Technical Education (CTE) program this year offers a variety of career pathways and opportunities for students, preparing them to be industry-ready to continue their post-secondary education at a community college, trade school, apprenticeship or enter the workforce.

The pathways showcasing the many options that students have through introductory, concentration, and capstone courses. Students may choose between agriculture and natural resources, information and communication technologies, building and construction trades, business and finance, health science and medical technology, hospitality and tourism, manufacturing and product development, transportation, engineering and architecture, and arts, media and entertainment.

Driving Toward a Career

Auto teacher Tom Agan noted that his program was sending seven Class of 2020 graduates to the Universal Technical Institute (UTI), and set numerous students on a pathway to employment in the automotive and heavy equipment industries through trade schools and community colleges.

This past year was the first year that SBHS Auto students were dual enrolled in Hartnell College’s Auto program, which means that upon completion of that program, students are guaranteed advanced placement in Hartnell’s auto/heavy equipment program. 

 Agan added that San Benito’s Auto Department, which operates out of the state-of-the art 38,380-square-foot CTE Building built using voter-approved bond funds, “is in the early stages of starting a diesel engine unit for students interested in the transportation/heavy equipment industry.”  

Fashioning a Future

Teaching more than 160 students per year, the SBHS woodworking courses not only provide students with core woodworking fundamentals like shop safety and tool operations, but also cover CNC machinery, cabinetmaking, mill lumber processing, and furniture design. 

“Students who complete the program successfully leave with practical work experience and industry certification through the OSHA Outreach 10-hour Construction Training Course,” said teacher Mark Krause. “I think all stakeholders recognize that even if a student is not going to become a carpenter or a contractor, that there is a lot that they learn from using their hands and brain to make something. Those kinds of skills are universally applicable to a lot of career opportunities.”

Krause noted that when students choose to pursue career options within the woodworking and construction industries, “they have a number of options in our immediate area and throughout California. Many students enter the local workforce in construction or working for a local woodshop.”

Students can pursue an apprenticeship through the Carpenters Training Committee for Northern California, located in Morgan Hill. The Center for Employment Training in San Jose offers a program in Green Building Construction. Hartnell, Cabrillo and San Jose Community Colleges offer two-year degrees in Sustainable Design and Construction, Construction Energy Management and Construction Technology. Four-year and advanced degrees are available at many California State University campuses in Industrial Supervision, Construction Management and Career Technical Education.

Fired Up About Metals

Metals teacher Tim Hammer said a number of his students are already working for local ranchers, utilizing their welding skills. This year’s graduating seniors also have numerous career options, including entering the pipe trades, doing metals fabrication, HVAC or enrolling in a welding school. 

“Several expressed an interest in joining the trade union, quite a few wanted to go into the military, some work for small businesses,” he said.

While many high schools have closed their shop classes, San Benito High School’s program is thriving. 

“It’s almost a national security issue,” Hammer noted of the need for skilled tradespeople. “Wwe don’t have enough people to produce what we need to produce. We need more fabricators and machinists. Every employer I talk to, including those on my advisory committee, say they can’t get enough qualified people. The opportunities for our students are really good; there are plenty of jobs.” 

Setting the Example

As I noted during the grand opening of the CTE building back in 2017, our program provides students with the opportunity to learn highly-technical skills that will provide them a multitude of opportunities after high school. The investment our community made in our future leaders is already paying off for our graduates, and for that we are eternally grateful.

Our highly-skilled instructors are helping SBHS continue to be an example for schools throughout California about what career technical education should look like. They remind us that every day is a great day to be a Baler!


San Benito High School District Superintendent Dr. Shawn Tennenbaum

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