Monday, the Garden City USD 457 Board of Education heard an update on Garden City High School’s career and technical education pathways, a statewide program that connects students more directly to the futures with specialized courses aimed, among other things, at building skills and certification in certain fields.

Of last year’s over 400 graduates, 245 completed career and technical education tracks, meaning they took at least three credits of at least two of the program’s three levels: introductory, technical and application, which progressively grant students more room for control and initiative with their learning, said Jenny Hands, career and technical education coordinator at GCHS.

This year, Hands said a majority of the school’s students were enrolled in at least one course with demographics that mirrored the school’s population.

Currently, the school offers 16 of the available 37 pathways, including engineering, teaching, business finance, law enforcement, visual arts, communications, agriculture science and health science, among others. The school could always add new pathways that were not currently offered by the state, but they have to first be approved by the Kansas Department of Education, Hands said.

The program is aimed at training high school students to fill community labor needs, Hands said, but is also driven by student interest. The school, for instance, added visual arts, like fashion design, due to student interest rather than local need.

The program gives students a chance to test out different career prospects before getting to college, where indecision is costlier, Hands said.

Board members were largely complimentary of the programs’ progress so far, and board president Mark Rude lightly suggested adding new pathways, such as some in government and public administration, one of the areas the school is not covering.

“If you want to keep hiring new teachers, then I will keep adding pathways. Until then, we’re kind of maxed out at the moment,” Hands joked.