Cascadia Technical Academy is a magnet school operated by Evergreen Public Schools and open to Clark County high school students. CTA also runs a free summer program. ESD 112 asked one ninth grader to write about her experience there and share a student’s perspective.

Exploring career options at Cascadia Technical Academy

by Alice Burt

“Click, clack. Click, clack.” The sound of computers and typing can be heard into the hall. 

Silence. It’s so quiet you can hear the sounds from the other classrooms. Sewing machines whir. Lectures are given. Occasionally, laughter leaks out into the common areas. Here in Cascadia Technical Academy, these are all normal sounds of the summer.

Cascadia Technical Academy, or CTA for short, is a school where highschoolers from districts across Clark County can earn extra credits, get a jump on their chosen career path, and start getting a feel for how it would be to take a specialized class, in highschool or college. This school provides classes in the areas of Career Technical Education (CTE). For example, it provides classes in dentistry, aerospace, cosmetology, pediatrics and basic health provider skills, cooking, business and marketing, construction, fashion, and much more.

In the summer, CTA offers free summer school classes, which is what brought me here in June and July. The summer programs are nice because they allow high schoolers to get credits that they may need in order to graduate, try out CTA without having to commit to a full semester, and just get extra credits or explore a certain field of interest. And although it is summer school, there is more leniency given than regular scheduled school. Days are seven hours long, but you get outdoor breaks, special field trips, treats (if your teacher is like mine), and a more flexible, fun structure.

When I asked a few students from my class what they liked about CTA, here is what one girl said, “I like that it’s free. I like that the summer program gives you an opportunity to explore the year-long programs without having to commit to it.” 

During the three week long session, my class went to the University of Portland, East Vancouver Farmers Market, did a challenge course team building exercise, and went on a hike in the Gorge. I thought that the most helpful field trip was going to U of P because it gave me an idea for how a college might be structured and set up, and also because it helped me figure out my criteria and constraints for what I would like in a college. 

The class I was enrolled in was “Career Exploration.” It is a good starter class for kids who don’t yet know what they want to do for a career. In class, we took personality quizzes, compiled our constraints for what we know we want in a job, worked on our resumes and watched videos on different career topics. When I started Career Exploration at CTA, I had no idea what I wanted to do as a job after high school. I had taken a few career tests for school that didn’t really help me that much, so when I heard that we were taking personality tests and career quizzes, I was like, “Great. This is just something I could’ve done on my own time.” Now, I wasn’t wrong necessarily, I could’ve done it on my own time, but when would I really be motivated or actually have the time to do it? 

Once we had taken those quizzes and tests I found that about 75% of them gave an accurate reading about what careers I would do well in and what I would not do well in. I’ve found that in order to get accurate results, you have to stop answering the questions how you would like yourself to be, and start answering the questions honestly. The computer isn’t going to judge you! It’s just there to help you sort through the thousands of jobs the world has!

To my surprise, the class proved to really help me hone in on what I wanted to do, which I now think is to be an economist or data analyst. This is because once we had our quiz results, we did research, wrote a paper, filled out worksheets, and did a presentation on what we decided. It helped push me to narrow down the choices to a field that would make me successful in something I enjoyed. 

I’m now excited to start my freshman year of high school with a clearer vision of where I’m going and how to best use my time there. I highly recommend CTA as a great way to try out new fields, earn highschool credits, and take interesting elective classes that someone might not otherwise have time for. Just be sure to register early in May–it’s a popular program, and spots fill up fast!