WORDEN — This month is Career and Technical Education month, highlighting programs in schools that offer differing skills for students. On Thursday at Huntley Project High School, Gov. Greg Gianforte paid a visit to see how the school’s program is shaping up.
"My dad taught me how to weld when I was 11, and I’ve loved it ever since,” said Willa Tauer, a student at Huntley Project High School, on Thursday. “My dad did it and my grandpa did it."
At Huntley Project, students are working with their hands and learning new skills.
"I made a hammock. It’s two braces coming up,” said Ryan Fox, a student at Huntley Project, on Thursday.
Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs can be found in schools across the state.
"Being in the CTE program has done a lot between people skills and being able to talk in public. It’s really helpful," Fox said. "And then just skills like welding, woodworking, that has all helped a ton."
Principal Sam Bruner said the programs are crucial for providing pathways for students.
"Not every student is going to be a dentist, not every student is going to be a lawyer, not every student’s going to be a mechanic either. So it has a certain amount of appeal to everyone,” Bruner said on Thursday. "We try to provide a robust opportunity for juniors and seniors for after-school work opportunity. Get credit for that, like a work-study type thing. So we’ll have a handful of students do different opportunities locally and even in Billings to showcase what they know, and they get paid to do that."
It’s a way for students to explore their options.
"I would like to go on the pipelines. I would like to be a welder,” said Tauer. "I do three classes over in Mr. Kotar's room. I do two metal classes, College Welding and Auto CAD. And then I have a Greenhouse SAE class."
Tauer is a senior at the school and is in multiple CTE programs. One of her teachers, Bambi Dalke, is inspired by students like Willa.
"These kids are the reason that I’m here. They’re special," Dalke said on Thursday. "I love to see them grow and explode and use their imagination. And come up with some of the great, awesome things that you see here today."
On Saturday, the annual Huntley Project FFA Sweethearts Ball is set to take place to raise money for the local chapter. Students have been hard at work creating items to auction off to raise money at the event.
“I’m originally from Minnesota, and my grandpa handmakes these boards," Tauer said. "They’re super cool, they have the wood fracking down and then he inlays them with colors. I have had a helping hand in quite a bunch."
Gianforte paid a visit to the school along with Rep. Greg Oblander, R-Shepherd, to highlight its CTE program, following the 2023 passing of House Bill 382, which tripled funding for the programs in Montana.
"Through the legislation we’ve passed, students can now spend time in internships in businesses in the community. Maybe a job site or a manufacturing plant, or working in diesel mechanics. And this helps them provide more direction as they develop their career,” Gianforte said on Thursday. “A four-year degree is not the right path for every student. So we need to expose them to other career paths that are high wage and in high demand."
The students are grateful for that direction.
"It helps out a lot preparing people to either go into the workforce or to go into college,” said Lane Botts, a student at Huntley Project, on Thursday. "With helping with interviews and the application process for different offices and things like that."
Fox added the governor's visit meant a lot to the program.
“It’s super neat that he would come to small town Huntley, Montana," said Fox. "We can see that he actually cares about this program and that’s super neat to see."
To learn more about Gianforte's CTE tour, click here.