BURLINGTON, N.C. -- This week, rising eighth- and ninth-graders in the Alamance-Burlington School System are learning that they don't have to go to a two- or four-year institution to begin working on a career. All they need to do is attend the Career and Technical Education Center or CTEC in Burlington.
Naomi Embry is a rising eighth-grader who loves cooking.
"I like to present stuff, make it pretty," Embry said. "It's fun to experiment. No food turns out the same way twice."
So working in CTEC's kitchen is a natural fit for Embry. She stands over the hot stove, boiling noodles, cooking chicken and stirring vegetables for her chicken alfredo. Embry likes what she sees.
"It's going to be really good," Embry gleefully said.
By enjoying a positive experience now, CTEC Principal Darrell Thomas hopes the students will sign up for classes when they enter high school.
"The unique thing is that you got kids coming from six different high schools coming to one location working together," Thomas said. "You would never know it because they take on the role of CTEC students."
The Career and Technical Education Center can accept 650 students each semester. But Thomas feels a lot of students don't know about CTEC or don't understand the programs. Thomas explains students don't have to leave their base high schools. They just have to take what Thomas refers to hands-on classes. When their CTEC classes are over, they can report back to their high schools.
Programming, engineering, culinary arts, nursing and digital media are some of the many interactive classes at CTEC. Rising ninth-grader Ryan Krasinski just recently learned about the classes at CTEC. When high school begins, he plans on adding CTEC computer classes to his school schedule.
"Even being a software engineer, it would be a dream," Krasinski said.
Rising eighth-grader McKay Fleming plans to pursue nursing classes.
"I want to be a neonatal nurse. I want to help babies," Fleming said.
The Career and Technical Education Center also partners with community and university organizations so students can acquire skills that can help them advance their career goals after high school graduation.