Henley Middle School eighth-grader Feather Crume is considering a career in the medical field – or perhaps in education. Classmate Rachel Edwards is interested in agriculture.

Crume and Edwards were among Henley Middle School eighth-graders who spent a day at Henley High School last week, exploring Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs and other electives available to them when they enter high school in the fall. This week, counselors are working with the students to help them determine their ninth-grade class schedules.

“It’s been a real learning experience,” Edwards said as she rotated with classmates through CTE Day stations, including ag science, welding, engineering, education, digital media, business marketing and health occupations. She had a chance to weld, drive a robot, create an image in Photoshop, extract strawberry DNA, and learn about Henley’s FFA program, which manages a greenhouse and raises steers, lambs, and chickens.

“The agriculture was really exciting, and we did some fun experiments,” she said. “I’m kind of leaning towards agriculture, but I’m going to try different things.”

Crume has always been interested in the medical field, but after learning about Henley’s education pathway, she is thinking about teaching as well. “I like helping people,” she said. “I’m thinking about exploring both.”

Before attending CTE Day, eighth-graders took an aptitude test called YouScience, which offers brain challenges that measure individual strengths, pointing students to career cluster options. The results are meant to provide insight to strengths students may not realize they have.

Henley Middle School was among 20 schools statewide and three in the Klamath County School District that worked with Southern Oregon Education Service District last year as part of the YouScience pilot for the Oregon Department of Education. This is the first year eighth-graders participated in a hands-on CTE Day at the high school.

The goal of CTE Day and YouScience testing is for incoming ninth-graders to be able to make more informed choices on classes or education pathways they can pursue in high school. It also gives students an opportunity to learn the names and faces of upperclassmen and ensure a smoother transition from middle school to high school, said Adam Randall, Henley High School CTE coordinator.

Starting next year, Henley High School will be offering seven CTE pathways: agriculture science, business, health occupations, engineering, agriculture mechanics, digital media, and education. These career-oriented pathways offer opportunities for college course alignment and college dual credit.

“We promote a multitude of paths — trade school, apprenticeships, and two-year or four-year college programs,” Randall said. “We are connecting with eighth-graders, showing them what we offer and how that matches up with their strengths and aptitudes.”

Henley senior Corey Wade was among FFA students helping eighth-graders extract DNA from frozen strawberries. Wade plans to attend college next year and major in chemistry on the way to a career as a forensic scientist.

“We’re trying to get kids more engaged with FFA, and one of the ways we’re doing it is by showing some of the fun activities and experiments we do,” she said. “I would have been much more involved if I had started earlier.”

Henley High School students Hannah Rabe and Joci Lambert are involved in DECA and business marketing classes. During CTE Day, they talked with eighth-graders about the importance of business courses and the opportunities provided by participating in the school’s competitive DECA club.

“I think this is important, and business helps them with anything they want to go into,” Lambert said.

Rabe urged younger students to get take advantage of the available programs and clubs. “DECA allows them to see opportunities that are out there. There are so many reasons to get involved.”

Henley High School FFA and agriculture students teach Henley Middle School eighth-graders about the school’s livestock during CTE Day last week at Henley High School.

Henley High School senior Corey Wade, left, works with a Henley Middle School eighth-grader to extract strawberry DNA during CTE Day last week at Henley High School.

A Henley Middle School eighth-grader experiments with snap circuits and electricity as part of the CTE Day last week at Henley High School.

Henley Middle School eighth-graders get a chance to weld during CTE Day last week at Henley High School.

A Henley High School students demonstrates how a 3D laser printer can “print” a rocket to eighth-graders at Henley Middle School as part of CTE Day last week.