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Superintendent's Message                                November 4, 2016
EVIT/FHUSD Public Forum Follow-Up

Career and Technical Education (CTE) has changed drastically since I was a high school student. Today's CTE is cutting-edge, rigorous, and relevant, preparing students for a wide range of high-wage, high-skill, high-demand careers.
I am genuinely excited that Fountain Hills High School has the opportunity to offer CTE classes to our students through one of the United States' highest ranking career and technical schools, East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT).  And, it will be right here in Fountain Hills!  We have always had access to classes at the EVIT Mesa campus, but the commute made it difficult for our students to fit the opportunity into their schedules. In fall 2017, EVIT will open a new campus at the former Four Peaks Elementary School building, giving all of our students access to industry program training.

Last Wednesday, EVIT superintendent Dr. Sally Downey and I hosted an open public forum to introduce EVIT and Dr. Downey to the community.  Our goal was to gather input and suggestions about the types of programs that will have the greatest positive impact on Fountain Hills. We had an excellent turnout, which included parents, members of the Chamber of Commerce, members of the Town Council and Town government, and concerned citizens.  Dr. Downey gave everyone in attendance a short survey to complete, and while I have not seen the results as of the writing of this newsletter, I can report that suggestions made at the meeting included: a variety of technology-related programs such as networking and Microsoft certification programs; engineering; hospitality; and medical careers.  Dr. Downey shared with the attendees that she intends to conduct a much broader needs assessment in the coming weeks as well as a student interest survey in order to make decisions about long-term EVIT programming.

During some follow-up conversations with people who attended, and with some who didn't, I realized that I need to do a better job of explaining what EVIT is, and what it isn't, and that is my intended purpose today.
To begin, EVIT was the first of 14 "joint technical education districts" (JTEDs) in Arizona. These 14 JTEDs are school districts that offer "tuition-free" high school career and technical education programs to partner school districts.   EVIT partner districts are: Apache Junction, Chandler, Higley, Fountain Hills, J.O. Combs, Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek, Scottsdale, and Tempe Union. Here are two links that can provide more information about EVIT and its programming:  EVIT and  EVIT-Wikipedia

In simple terms, EVIT provides state of the industry training and relevant, real-world learning opportunities that make crystal clear the correlation between what students are learning and what they hope to do as a career.  Fountain Hills will be the fourth EVIT campus and programming will be available to students not only from Fountain Hills but also to students from the nine other member districts.

CTE classes benefit all students.  Unfortunately, some parents hold the outdated belief that if their student is college-bound, CTE courses are not for them. This couldn't be further from the truth.  As Dr. Downey explained, "It's not about our past. It's about their future."  We need to let go of the notion of the way it was back when we were in high school, and look at what it has become.  Earning a CTE industry certification while in high school is not exclusive of going on to get a college degree.  It's an extra edge for employment during the college years and later in careers. It is one more skill, qualification, or certification they can offer to an employer.  In fact, 2/3 of the course completers at EVIT go on to post-secondary education.  So in short, EVIT and CTE are for everyone, regardless of post-high school plans. And, it is free. Why pay for a certification later when your child can earn it tuition-free in high school?

As programming is determined and EVIT course offerings are finalized, I encourage ALL parents to take a long, hard look at how your student's participation in these programs will benefit them in the long run.   We will continue to share information with you and our students about programs and courses offered through EVIT next year at both the Fountain Hills campus and the main campus in Mesa.  Again, I encourage ALL parents to consider these options in planning your students' schedules for next year.

FHHS is Hosting a Star Party

Fountain Hills High School and the Fountain Hills Astronomy Club are hosting a Star Party this Sunday night, November 6th, from 7:30 to 9:00 PM, weather permitting. The public is invited and refreshments will be served.  Attendees will have the opportunity to observe a lunar occultation through the high school's newest telescope as well as through the Fountain Hills Astronomy Club's telescopes.  This LINK contains additional information.


Patrick Sweeney, Ed.D.

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