Inaugural summer career, technical education camps in the books | Local News

Jason Koon Screenwriter

Burke County Public Schools capped off a summer of Career and Technical Education (CTE) camps for students on Thursday with four camps at various locations across the county.

Over the summer, more than 230 Burke County students participated in 19 Summer Adventure CTE Camps over three weeks. The camps were free and open to all students in grades six through eight in Burke County. All campers received free breakfast and lunch each day, as well as a free t-shirt.

Funded by a grant called “Summer Accelerator,” the following camps were offered by the district June 20-23 and August 1-4:

  • Building a Business that Cares Entrepreneurship Camp
  • Impact Build Camp
  • From farm to table camp
  • Farm to Fork Camp
  • Dye to learn more about color clothing design camp
  • Empire building and construction camp
  • #Computing #Digital world
  • VEX Robotics 101
  • Medical Exploration Camp
  • Roller coaster madness
  • One week to become a millionaire entrepreneurship camp
  • firefighting camp
  • car camp

People also read…

Four additional camps, held August 8-11, rounded out the summer, including The Baker’s Shop, Hogwarts Hall of Engineers Camp, Burke Agriculture Pathways and “Sew it Seems” Textile Camp.

At the Hogwarts Engineers Camp at East Burke Middle School, students took their magical engineering abilities to the next level by designing and testing “magic wands” and Maglev trains, as well as using engineering to take care of “magical creatures”. Students also saw a Glowforge laser cutter and engraver in action and learned how to create their own designs on the machine.

“They can take home their very own Glowforge design and LED light base, so they have a souvenir of their camp,” said Andrea Gladden, a teacher at East Burke Middle School and director of camps at Hogwarts.

For Gladden, the week was about more than fun and games.

“Everything we do, whatever I teach, I really try to incorporate content for middle school, so we have lots of potential ways to introduce STEM to sixth, seventh and eighth graders” , she said.

At “The Bakery Shop” at Freedom High School, students explored ways to use simple ingredients to make the best bakery treats and discussed the importance of safety and hygiene in the kitchen. During the week, they also sampled cookies, muffins, dumplings and cookies and visited local restaurants to see how they implement safety practices and learn about the different types of food served.

At the Burke Agriculture Pathways camps at East Burke and Freedom High Schools, middle school students gain hands-on experience in a variety of agricultural career paths, including animal science, farm mechanics, and horticulture.

At Patton High School, “Sew it Seems” textile camp students learned to dye and screen print fabric and thread a sewing machine. Students also made their own tote bag and toured the Industrial Commons and WPCC to explore Burke County’s textile industry.

According to Casey Rogers, director of careers and technical education, the purpose of the camps was to give high school students the opportunity to explore a variety of potential career paths.

“We are excited to showcase our CTE programs by hosting camps that provide high school students with the opportunity to explore many career paths,” he said. “We’ve run camps in engineering and robotics, food and nutrition, clothing and textiles, business and entrepreneurship, healthcare, construction, firefighting, IT and coding.”

At the Hogwarts Hall of Engineers camp, Marshall Johnson, a rising sixth-year student, said that while he enjoyed the educational projects he was involved in during the week, he was more excited about the camp as an opportunity to have new experiences and making new friends.

“I met a lot of new people here,” he said. “A lot of people that I think I will never forget in my life.”

For East Burke student Abigail Gladden, the draw had more to do with the Harry Potter theme of the week.

“I’m addicted to Harry Potter,” she said. “I love Harry Potter so much, I’ve read all the books and seen all the movies and I’m working on reading the books a second time.”

For Andrea Gladden, linking education and career exploration in a way that intersects with children’s daily lives is one of the most important facets of the camps.

“I’m a Harry Potter fan. I love all the different possibilities and I’m a big fan of integrating content into the things we do,” said Andrea Gladden. “It gives me a lot of flexibility with a theme like Harry Potter.”

College student Jaia Thor said she would definitely return to Hogwarts Academy next year if given the chance.

“It gives you a once-in-a-lifetime experience and can broaden your mind,” she said.

For more information about vocational and technical education at Burke County Public Schools, visit

Jason Koon is editor and can be reached at [email protected]

Colin L. Johnson