In Sherman High School, students are preparing for what lies beyond graduation day. While reading, writing, and arithmetic will always be a part of education, students are taking advantage of other classes; culinary arts, architecture, and construction, among others.

In Sherman High School, students are preparing for what lies beyond graduation day. While reading, writing, and arithmetic will always be a part of education, students are taking advantage of other classes; culinary arts, architecture, and construction, among others.


In the fall semester of 2013, Sherman High School experienced an unexpected growth of interest in its Career and Technology Education classes. The programs are designed to give students experience and skills for careers and education after high school.


About 77 percent of the 1,700 students at SHS take part in CTE programs, said Jennifer Kelley, vice principal and CTE curriculum supervisor at SHS. She said 2013 saw over ten percent more students enroll in the programs.


On Nov. 18, the Sherman School Board approved the allocation of $285,000 in additional funding given to Sherman ISD by the State of Texas in response to the growth in the program. The original budget for the year was set at just over $1 million.


On Tuesday, Symantha Murray’s advanced level culinary arts class met to make gingerbread houses from dough they made in class. The advance class currently has eight students, including one third-year student; the beginning culinary arts class has about 80 students, said Murray.


"Even if they don’t go into culinary arts, they are learning life skills that they can use in any profession," said Murray. "It is not an easy industry."


"I don’t like touching raw meet," said Cyndi Eason, a senior at SHS, and third year culinary arts student. "I prefer baking."


"I am the complete opposite," retorted Justin Edwards, a senior.


SHS offers classes in 13 of 16 career clusters recognised by Achieve Texas, a group designed to help prepare students for careers and college-level education post-graduation. In 2013, SHS expanded many of its CTE courses including architecture and construction, horticulture, and heating ventilation and air conditioning. The floral design course also experienced a 75 percent growth in its enrollment.


SHS hired two full-time CTE teachers, hired a part-time CTE and English instructor, and promoted an architecture instructor to a full-time position in preparation for the 2013-2014 school year. Even with the additional staffing, school officials were not expecting this level of interest.


Kelley attributes much of the growth to the increase in marketing teachers and instructors performed for their courses. On Nov. 12, the program hosted its first CTE Career Expo, attracting over 250 students of all grade levels to the event.


The programs give students hands-on experience in fields and skills that they may choose to pursue after graduation. For the horticulture classes, this includes partnerships with local master gardeners.


"It’s about building partners in the community so students can get experience outside of the class," said Kelley.


There are already plans to expand the program over the next few years, said Kelley. Included in the expansion are courses on computer maintenance, audio and video production, and expanding the Family Consumer Science courses.


SHS is also working on the final plans to open the Bearcat Bistro, a restaurant operated by culinary arts students. The restaurant plans on opening for catering in 2014, before expanding to full service sometime in 2015.


Meanwhile, both Eason and Edwards look toward a future in the culinary arts using the skills they learned in high school. Edwards plans on attending the Art Institute and opening a Mexican/Italian fusion restaurant named "Justin Thyme". Eason, who is already taking her basics at Grayson College, hopes to further her education and eventually open a bakery.