Bay District Schools holds first ever “Bay CTE Works”

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Bay High School senior, Olivia Bailie, says she sees the culture around college changing among adults and her peers.

“In the past, they would frown on a school like Haney,” said Bailie. “Now, vocational school is okay.”

She’s one of many Bay District seniors figuring out their next steps, and for dozens of them, a traditional four-year degree isn’t in the plans.

“A lot of kids don’t really enjoy school,” said Bailie. “I think the CTE aspect really opens them up to school.”

That’s the idea behind “Bay CTE Works;” a mini-conference, taking place for the first time on Friday at Gulf Coast State College, putting career and technical education in the spotlight as the demand for skilled labor continues to rise.

“Florida is looking at a two million person job-deficit in high-skilled, high-wage jobs,” said Bay District Schools CTE supervisor Beth Patterson. “It’s our job to prepare our students to meet that need.”

At the conference, students were able to join in on several different breakout sessions, learning about everything from how to build a resume to the different industry certification programs that are available here in Bay County.

They were also able to hear from a local published author and motivational speaker, Willie Spears, who grew up as a student in Bay District Schools.

“It’s important to let them know that there is more than one route to having a successful life,” said Spears. “There are so many successful people who are using their skills to make a living.”

The district is working to make this conference an annual event, connecting students with new opportunities.

“Everyone’s not going to Harvard, everyone’s not going to UF,” said Spears. “But they still need to be productive citizens here in Bay County so this helps us have a better community. I think it’s an absolutely wonderful project.”

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