When Ferndale High School students and staff finally stepped into the new CTE Wing earlier in January, they immediately knew it would be a game-changer.
“This new building reiterates what we’re trying to show to students: They belong in a space that reflects how important and valuable they are,” said business teacher Michele Stern. “It creates a stronger sense of community and morale.”
The CTE Wing is the final new building in the FHS campus remodel, opening a year after the new Academic Wing. It’s exclusively dedicated to Career and Technical Education (or CTE) classes that teach students skills that they can apply to a career in the trades or the business world. The wing contains numerous labs for classes like welding, wood shop, video game design, and much more. Ferndale offers 61 different CTE courses, and more than 83% of FHS students take at least one CTE class.
Many of the new labs received new equipment. Mitch Davis’ metal shop received 18 new welding stations, along with new welding machines, a new metal lathe, and more. Using industry-standard equipment at the high school level gives FHS students an advantage after graduation, he said.
“This gives them a step up,” Davis said. “When they go to the technical college, they wouldn’t necessarily have to learn how to use some of the newer equipment, because now we have it.”
Logan Penland’s computer lab – used for his video production, computer science, and video game design classes – received a brand-new set of top-of-the-line PCs. These faster computers will allow Penland to launch a new class soon teaching students how to use the video-game making software Unreal Engine.
“I feel validated, like the community cares about students and the opportunities that they are provided,” Penland said. “It gives the kids an opportunity to work with professional-grade tools.”
FHS’ original CTE building was built in 1943, with a few classrooms added in the ‘90s and ‘00s. Although staff said they appreciated the old CTE building, they agreed it was time for a change.
“Our old building was well past its lifespan,” said engineering and architecture teacher Mark Schneider. “Having heating and cooling that works, lights that work, the same computer monitor at every table – these are little things, but it makes it feel much different.”
“We loved the old building, it had a lot of great memories,” added Assistant Principal Ben Goodwin, who oversees CTE. “But to have a building built in the 1940s versus in 2023, it’s an awesome upgrade.”
Another major difference between the old and new CTE buildings is its location on campus. While the old CTE wing was a separate building, tucked away behind Old Main, the new CTE Wing is attached to the rest of campus and has prominent placement right next to the Athletic Wing.
“When CTE was in a separate building, it really helped reiterate the feeling that we weren’t not part of the building in some ways,” said Stern. “Being connected to the main campus, it feels like we’re a vital part of the school.”
Students who have classes in the new CTE Wing said its new location is much more convenient.
“It’s way more accessible,” said senior Diego Sanchez. “You don’t have to walk all the way outside anymore.”
“We’re not going to be late to classes anymore, because everything’s connected,” added senior Ebonie Garcia.
Garcia also said she appreciated the design of the new building, which is similar to the warm, clean look of the rest of the new campus, but with a slight metallic feel befitting its subjects.
“It’s somewhat modern, but also kind of industrial, and I think that works well for CTE,” she said.
Junior Cayne Joas said he’s grateful for Ferndale voters passing the 2019 bond that built the new CTE Wing, along with the rest of the new FHS campus.
“This has been a huge improvement, and it shows that the community really cares about us,” he said.