Arcadia High School Provides Unique Career Technical Education Classes

By AUSD Digital Communications Intern Danielle Workman


CTE Arcadia High Courses

Students learning how to program in the AP Computer Science Principles Class offered as a part of the Arcadia High CTE Program

(Photo Courtesy of Apache News)


For over 50 years, Arcadia High School has offered a variety of Career Technical Education (CTE) courses, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in a multitude of fields and majors. 


“CTE courses offer students opportunities to learn differently from other classes and use different parts of the brain,” said Ing Mu, a CTE Graphic Design teacher at Arcadia High School. 

 “Most of our CTE courses are hands-on project-based classes. Our courses focus on a particular career path and students learn the specific needs and knowledge required of that field. There are lots of opportunities to problem solve using multiple methods,” elaborated Mu.  

Arcadia High’s CTE courses come in “pathways”, where two or more classes related to the same subject are taken sequentially. The courses within a pathway are categorized by three distinct levels— “Introductory”, or beginning course, “Concentrator”, which is the equivalent of an intermediate course, and “Capstone”,  the final and most advanced course in a pathway. 

“The pathways that we have include engineering, graphic design, computer science, dance, stagecraft, video production, and sports medicine,” said Breanne Genite, Arcadia High School CTE Coordinator. 


Genite also noted that there are three additional subject areas that do not fall into a specific pathway but are under the CTE umbrella. These include food science, business management, and retail marketing. All of these courses are articulated with Pasadena City College, Glendale Community College, and Citrus College and are UC Approved. 


To offer a better understanding of how these pathways work, let’s take a look at a few of Arcadia High’s CTE programs.


Arcadia High’s Computer Science Program

Arcadia High’s Computer Science program includes a variety of Introductory courses, a Concentrator course, and a concluding Capstone course. Within this pathway, “Computer Science, Java Programming, and C++ Programming are the beginning courses,” shared Brent Reiske, Department Head for Arcadia High’s CTE Program and AP Computer Science Principles teacher. 


“In AP Computer Science Principles [an Introductory course], students delve into several topics, such as the Internet, cybersecurity, programming, working with data, and computer science in general. In AP Computer Science A [a Capstone course], the concepts focus on the one idea of computer programming,” explained Reiske. 


Though programming is a core skill in this particular field, not every computer scientist becomes a programmer. Some hone their skills in networking, some specialize in cybersecurity, and some dedicate their careers to other fields entirely. AP Computer Science Principles is a course meant to provide students with a basic understanding of the field and prepare them for the limitless number of career opportunities the field of Computer Science entails. In contrast, if students continue down the pathway and take the AP Computer Science A course, they will hone further in on the specialized area of computer programming.


Arcadia High students' graphic design work

Graphic Design projects by Arcadia High students decorate the school’s halls

(Photo Courtesy of Ing Mu)


Arcadia High’s Graphic Design Program

To properly equip her students for a career in graphic design, Mu instructs and assigns projects that reflect those that come with an authentic graphic design job. 


“The projects we do reflect what a professional graphic designer would produce, like event posters, album covers, business branding, etc. When they [students] design, they must consider the client’s perspective and the audience or customers’ perspective. It’s not enough to design beautifully but you also need to think about how the design is going to work,” described Mu. 


Mu advised that after taking just one Graphic Design course, some Arcadia High students would qualify as ready for entry-level graphic design jobs or will have the foundational knowledge necessary to pursue further development in this field through higher education. 


Arcadia High’s Sports Medicine Program

Arcadia High School sophomore Mia Tsou is currently enrolled in a Medical Careers course taught by  Arcadia High educator Matthew Nielsen, where she is learning about the functions of the body, human anatomy, diseases and illnesses, various treatments, external and internal factors that affect the body, and much more.

“As a student wanting to pursue a career in medicine, I feel that this CTE class gives me an overview of what the future as a medical professional may hold and the various routes I can take to be involved in the medical field,” shared Tsou. 


“The course helps me develop a better understanding of what the professional medical world is like and the various knowledge that medical professionals must know at all times.”


Tsou intends to take CTE classes in the medical pathway throughout her high school career to further develop her interest and experience in the medical field. 


“I am currently thinking about taking classes including Sports Medicine, Psychology, and/or Anatomy & Physiology as they will all expand the amount of knowledge I have before I decide how I would like to be involved in the medical field,” Tsou explained. 


“More exposure to various forms of knowledge in these courses will provide an overview of the college material I will study in the future and create a distinct line between what I feel I will or will not enjoy studying in my adult life.”


In Tsou’s summation of her CTE experience thus far, “All in all, students learn hard skills like the career-specific knowledge of these courses, and they also learn soft skills like empathy, ethics, and professionalism, which come from life experiences.


Tsou believes classes like these benefits all students, not just people who are interested in certain careers, as she feels that CTE courses broadens students’ perspectives about life and what is important in education.


From Tsou’s perspective, the multitude of classes and career opportunities provided by Arcadia High School helps students acquire countless skills and learn lessons applicable in later years. 

“Students learn to be creative and apply critical thinking to produce end results and products from these classes,” reflected Mu. “It’s good for students to know that there are many ways to approach a problem and that there are many ways to solve them.”

For more information on the specific CTE classes offered at Arcadia High School, check out this video produced by Arcadia High’s Apache News (a course students can take under the CTE Video Production pathway) and visit the Arcadia High CTE website. For more information about the many other programs and opportunities at Arcadia High School, please visit