Portrait of a Graduate in Action: Career and Technical Education


Portrait of a Graduate in Action: Career and Technical Education

October 30, 2023

Portrait of a Graduate in Action is a regular feature that provides greater meaning and examples to the Warwick Valley Central School District’s Portrait of a Graduate, a representation of the district’s priority goals for teaching and learning to create graduates who are collaborators, communicators, creators and innovators, ethical and global citizens, resilient individuals, problem-solvers, and life-long learners.


For students in Warwick Valley High School seeking to expand their knowledge in the world of Career and Technical Education (CTE), there are many options to consider.

Once an education path for students only seeking vocational skills, CTE is now hailed as an opportunity for students who are looking to build career skills, get a start on their college education or learn a skilled trade that will allow them to pay for college.

It is also a perfect opportunity to learn and work in practical settings on the attributes that define the Warwick Valley Central School District’s Portrait of a Graduate.

“I can’t think of a better example of our school district targeting those competencies of a Portrait of a Graduate than in Career and Technical Education (CTE),” said Superintendent Dr. David Leach. “Educators in the CTE pathways push our students every day to become Collaborators, Communicators, Creator/Innovators, Ethical and Global Citizens, Resilient Individuals, Problem Solvers, and Life-long Learners. These students experience hands-on learning in real-world learning environments and experiences. That’s why 150 juniors and seniors attend these pathway programs, both at Warwick Valley High School and Orange-Ulster BOCES, every year.”

In an October Warwick Valley Board of Education work session, the High School administration, BOCES CTE administrators and students provided a deeper understanding of the educational opportunities available to Warwick students and the impact these programs can have on their futures.

Warwick Valley High School offers three internal programs that prepare students for careers in criminal justice, cosmetology and video production. Students also have the opportunity to study disciplines externally at Orange-Ulster BOCES (OU BOCES). Those programs include culinary arts, construction, engineering, fire science and healthcare, among others. The pathways are typically two years long.

By choosing an education that includes career and technical training, Warwick students are getting an education that may boost their personal success, as well as the success of the region and the country.

“These programs really do have the potential to shape, not only the future of our scholars, but of the workforce because these programs are providing them with skills so they are ready to enter the workforce,” Principal Georgianna Diopoulos said.

“It really gives them an opportunity to take what they learned in class and apply it to real world situations,” she said. “It will prepare them for industry-based assessments. In order to work in a number of these positions or to even get these jobs there are certain certifications they will need to get.”

Director of Guidance Mary Fox explained that the CTE program pathways provide learning traditional high school academic subjects in natural settings. The real life practice integrates instruction and embeds academic credits for the acquired reading, writing, science and mathematical knowledge. Pathways are mapped and approved by the New York State Education Department and the Board of Regents. Graduation requirements remain the same (22 credits) and students must pass one Regents exam in English, Math, Science, Social Studies and one alternate assessment. Following the completion of a CTE program, students have the opportunity to take an exam for a technical endorsement; for many students that means sitting for a certification exam sponsored by the state or another entity to allow them to practice in the field.

The three WVHS CTE teachers – who are certified through the state, have actual career experience in their fields and have made teaching at the High School their second careers. At the board of education work session, they gave short presentations about their programs.

Eduardo Avila, criminal justice teacher, has extensive years in law enforcement and military law enforcement and has an educational background in forensic psychology, education and criminal justice.

He explained that the program teaches the theories behind criminal justice, how the court systems work, the adjudication process, corrections, parole, juvenile justice, the war on terrorism, security hospitality, and narcotics, among other topics. The program has an articulation agreement with SUNY Orange and provides the opportunity for a FEMA certification. Students meet field clients to discuss safety measures and develop security plans.

Kathleen Bettello, cosmetology teacher, said that the cosmetology program covers basic skills, like manicuring, shampooing and haircutting, but it also teaches science concepts, like why hair color changes, what happens microscopically when hair dye is applied, layers of the skin, anatomy and body systems. She added that one of the students’ greatest opportunities to practice skills is during the public salon days when the community can book appointments.

“I feel like our public salon aligns with the Portrait of a Graduate because not only are they practicing new skills but they are also learning how to communicate with each other, teamwork, and solve problems,” she said. “They learn to work together to figure it out. Those skills can be carried into anything they do.”

Dan Cecconie, video production teacher, explained that students start the two-year program by learning the basic knowledge of video production so they can move on to creating video. In their second year, students then take ownership of video projects and learn the soft people skills associated with working people on them. For example, the video production team produces the Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce’s monthly “In the Valley” show.

Kathleen Smith, Director of Career and Technical Education at Orange-Ulster BOCES, explained the clusters that are offered in OU BOCES CTE and the programs within each cluster – Appearance Careers Academy, Construction Careers Academy, Culinary Careers Academy, Education Careers Academy, Emergency Services Academy, Environmental Careers Academy, Health Careers Academy, STEM Careers Academy, Transitional Careers Academy, Transportation Careers Academy and Visual Arts Academy.

OU BOCES works with 187 business and industry partnerships where its students apply what they learn in actual work settings, including shadowing experiences, as well as free and paid internships.

“It is our way to get students into the workforce,” she said. “Our students also have the opportunity to earn over 75 industry-based certifications…. That is something we take great pride in as it gives our students a step up when they go on their interviews, because employers really embrace the fact that our students have that training already.”

Nine CTE students lined up in library who attend both WVHS and OU BOCES programs

Nine students shared their personal experiences in various CTE pathways at the work session to provide board members with the student perspective of the program:

Senior Kiera Ferrier, Criminal Justice (WVHS) – “When I first came into this program, I didn’t know anyone. But I quickly became friends,” she said. “It taught me about criminal justice and law, but it also taught me about life.”

She’s learned about the history of law, the history of policing, terrorism, narcotics, forensics, and security operations.

She plans to attend college and work in security while she’s in college. Her ultimate goal is to work for the FBI. “But that’s a long way off,” she said.

Senior Anthony Velazquez, Nurse Assistant (BOCES) – “I knew that I had to go into something that interests me. I was originally interested in psychology,” he said. “The nursing program is one of the best things that ever happened to me. You get to learn a lot.”

He’s learned about blood pressure, taking a pulse, how to take temperatures, the Heimlich Maneuver, CPR, how to stop bleeding, and sterilization techniques. Now, he is learning through the program while working in a clinical setting at Sapphire Nursing and Rehab of Goshen. “I never thought that in high school I’d be able to go work in an actual nursing home where there are real residents, and use the skills that I learned from this program. I thought that’d be only something I could do in college.”

Senior Chase Porter, Carpentry (BOCES) – “I joined this program because I do it as a job. It was first nature when I saw it. I’d probably be failing right now if I didn’t do carpentry. I get bored. It helped a lot.”

After high school, he plans to continue working in his family’s business, which he has been doing for three years.

Senior Madison Salisbury, Heavy Equipment (BOCES) – “I was born on a horse farm. I always worked on it. It’s been my life since I was little,” she said. Her goal is to be an independent farm owner. “I plan to run my own farm and I needed to learn about heavy equipment.”

She said she has spent most of her days with the livestock and did not spend a lot of time in the garage, “Like most girls do.” Now, Madison has learned about oil changes, brake installations, small engine rebuilds, excavating and digging trenches. “The program is amazing,” she said. “Even though I’m not mechanically inclined, I can now do way more than I thought I’d ever do and I don’t have to pay someone to do it.”

Junior Christian Pinnavaia, Criminal Justice (WVHS) – He has enjoyed the forensics program and learning how to evaluate a crime scene. He said he has also learned how to respect others in a work environment. He chose the program because he likes the law and has thought about law enforcement after high school. 

“After high school I plan to go to college, either majoring or minoring in criminal justice,” he said. “If I don’t major in it, I want to maybe major in chemistry or homeland security.”

Junior Abigail Glover, Video Production (WVHS) – She said she is obsessed with movies and all that goes into their production, such as lighting, who filmed the production, and what makes a viewer captivated. “I always loved school. I was good at math and science but none of that interested me. But, luckily enough the video production classes here have tapped my creative side, which is something that I think I’m more passionate about than anything else.”

Before taking the first course (Video 1), she had never touched a video camera or had been in a studio, she said, but on the first of class she started learning about the camera, lights and sound. She has already been taught how to be a technical director, a producer and an on-air talent.

“We are prepared for any situation ever. I’m going to take all these skills and go to college and (eventually) work in the industry,” she said.

Senior Logan McKay, Video Production (WVHS) – “I joined video production because when I was in my sophomore year I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he said. His uncle, who worked at Fox News, was an influence in Logan joining the program.

“This class has honestly changed my life. Video 1, it’s all hands on. Video 2, you use those skills and you make something with it,” he said. “It’s about leadership. So far, this year I have directed two football games and eight shows. It’s all about leadership and using your skills to do something and make people notice you. I already have jobs outside of school using my camera skills and leadership skills.”

He plans to attend William Paterson University to learn more in the field and gain an internship.

Junior Megan Scannello, Cosmetology (WVHS) – The reason she started the program was because when she was younger she was taught to do make-up, nails and hair styling. “I’m a very indecisive person and the cosmetology field is super versatile. There are so many different jobs you can do,” she said. “I was a little bit iffy after (I started), but looking through this job it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Only two months into the program, so far, Megan explained the various aspects of cosmetology that she has been learning, such as hair washing, curling, parting, and infection control, but she also emphasized that she has been learning the communication skills required of professional cosmetologists. “We are learning to communicate with our customers.”

She is planning to become certified through the program.

Senior Lydia Bingham, Cosmetology (WVHS) – She appreciates the communication skills she has learned as well. “With the consultations with clients that we are taught, it definitely helps with our communications skills with our customers and even our fellow employees, and even at my workplace it makes it easier to have discussions,” she said.

She has plans to become a licensed cosmetologist and work in the field while attending college. “One of the big things that I was going for in joining this program is … to be a licensed cosmetologist straight out of my senior year. It gives you that advantage with working through college. I can work in a salon and be a hair stylist/licensed cosmetologist and make that a great way for paying for college.”

Career Development and Occupational Studies Learning Standards

Standard 1: Career Development
Students will be knowledgeable about the world of work, explore career options, and relate personal skills, aptitudes, and abilities to future career decisions.

Standard 2: Integrated Learning
Students will demonstrate how academic knowledge and skills are applied in the workplace and other settings.

Standard 3a: Universal Foundation Skills
Students will demonstrate mastery of the foundation skills and competencies essential for success in the workplace.

Standard 3b: Career Majors
Students who choose a career major will acquire the career specific technical knowledge/skills necessary to progress toward gainful employment, career advancement, and success in postsecondary programs.

Warwick Valley High School CTE Programs

The comprehensive curriculum is presented through classroom instruction, computer-based learning,  and hands-on related activities such as:

  • Introduction to the Criminal Justice Program
  • Introduction to Criminology
  • Law Enforcement in America
  • Classification of Laws
  • The Foundations of Law Enforcement
  • Police Mission and Organization
  • The U.S. Court System
  • Probation, Parole and Corrections
  • Crime Management
  • Juveniles and the Law
  • Global War on Terrorism
  • Drugs and Narcotics
  • FEMA: Incident Command System FCS-100 Certification
  • NYS Security Guard Certification
  • NOCTI/Exam Preparation

A hands-on course in the field of cosmetology. Students will explore roller setting, finger waving, permanent wave wrapping, pin curls, thermal curling techniques, hair styling and paraffin hand wax.  Students will also master the  fundamentals of manicuring, shampooing, haircutting, chemical texture services, skin care, and hair color techniques in preparation for employment.

Students will learn the art of broadcast media through hands-on, real world assignments designed to develop the interdependent skills that are required to produce professional video content.  Special attention is placed on the value of pre-production organization and the value of targeted messaging  in reaching an audience.


OU BOCES CTE Clusters and Programs


Electrical Construction Technology

Culinary Food Trades

Early Childhood Development and Care
Education and Management

Emergency Medical Services
Fire Science
Law Enforcement

Animal Science (Veterinary Assistant)
Heavy Equipment

Dental Careers
Exercise Science and Personal Training
Principles of Health Occupations
Allied Health Assistant
Nurse Assistant
Pharmacy Technician

Engineering Design and Architecture (CAD)
Computer Networking (Cisco CCNA)
Computer Programming and Video Game Development
Mechatronics and Robotic Engineering

Hospitality and Workplace Learning
Vehicle Maintenance

Auto Body/Restoration
Automotive Technology

Digital Design and Advertising
Digital Filmmaking and Post Production
Fashion and Interior Design



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