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Montague students mapping their futures at Career Tech Center 

Montague High School guidance counselor Rob Patton calls it ‘total immersion’ into career that students choose.

Montague senior Maleya Gonzalez has a plan for her future and the Career Tech Center in Muskegon has helped put her on track.

Gonzalez, who intends on studying dental hygiene at Ferris State University, is taking Allied Health Technology 1 at the CTC.

“I think the biggest benefit of attending CTC is setting up your future,” said Gonzalez, who carries a 3.63 GPA at Montague. “You will get an idea of what you like to do and what you don’t like to do. You can also have other job opportunities within your specific class. Also, meeting new friends and teachers.”

The Career Tech Center has been a great resource for Montague High School students. It’s a place where students can enhance their skills and knowledge in specific areas.

This school year, 72 Montague High School students attend the Career Tech Center. Fifty-three slots were initially available, then Montague High School guidance counselor Rob Patton worked with the CTC through the summer to increase the enrollment. Patton makes a similar effort each year.

Patton said the number of CTC enrollees from Montague has remained pretty consistent since he arrived at Montague in 2019, although the number has increased since that first year.

For at least the past two decades, Montague High School students have had the option of attending the Career Tech Center. For the most part, CTC is for high school juniors and seniors.

“A total immersion into the career field they choose is a great benefit,” said Patton, who creates awareness of opportunity, placement, enrollment, and support for enrolled students at the CTC.

“Potential college credits are an added bonus. For many students, enrollment at CTC is one of their first chances to experience a different kind of classroom teaching and that can be a great motivator.”

While Patton has been with Montague Area Public Schools for five years, he’s spent 28 years in education overall.

At Montague, Patton provides responsive services to students, including crisis management, scheduling and academic advising, college and career planning, and all aspects of enrollment services.

For Patton, it’s rewarding to know that he’s helped students along their career paths.

“It is a great feeling to know I played a part in helping a student access the career training that fits their interest and abilities,” he said. “I enjoy getting as many students involved with CTC as possible. I have often run into students many years after graduation and can see how CTC played an important role in their life trajectory. That is very rewarding.”

Photos courtesy of Montague High School and Career Tech Center

The center has its challenges

Patton noted that the Career Tech Center does have some drawbacks, including the fact that students at the CTC take only three classes at their high school. He said that most students love that, but some have had to make difficult choices about the classes they can and cannot take at their high school.

For Montague junior Sophia Beishuizen, the Career Tech Center has been a good fit. She’s in her first year attending the CTC. She currently holds a 3.7 weighted GPA at Montague.

Like Gonzalez, Beishuizen is taking Allied Health Technology 1 and she’s intending on becoming a dental hygienist. After high school, she plans to attend Muskegon Community College for two years and transferring to Ferris State University or Grand Rapids Community College to further her education.

“One benefit of attending CTC has been getting to experience what the health care field would be like and if I could see myself working in that field,” Beishuizen said about the practical experience she’s gaining at the CTC. She’s a busy person, also taking part in National Honor Society, playing softball, and raising hogs for the 4-H Oceana County Fair.

“I have had a great experience at CTC so far. I have learned so many new things and have got to experience a lot of things I am interested in.” 

Gonzalez echoes Beishuizen’s sentiments.

Gonzalez participated in competitive cheer for three years before she decided to step away this season. She enjoys being outdoors and hanging out with friends.

Like Beishuizen, Gonzalez is in her first year at the Career Tech Center and it has helped to shape her future.

“So far, I have had a great first year at CTC,” Gonzalez said. “I love my teachers and the class. I have already learned so much about different health careers, medical terminology, and competency skills.”

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