Enrollment swells at Northwest Career & Technical High School

By Jean Borst

A traditional K-12 setting isn’t for everyone. Northwest Career & Technical High School (NWCTHS), located on the Clover Park Technical College campus, offers high schoolers something different – a clear path to careers.

For Tanylia Kravis, high school was a struggle. It didn’t offer the challenge, flexibility and support she needed. She was looking for some direction in her life and thought NWCTHS might be the answer.

“From the moment I came here, I knew that the curriculum was better for my learning style,” Kravis said. “By the end of my first quarter, I realized how much I love to learn.”

More students opting in

NWCTHS opened in the fall of 2003 with 21 students. Since that time, enrollment has steadily grown. In spring of 2023, 275 students were enrolled at the high school. Within a few months, that number soared to 377.

One of the biggest reasons for the school’s increasing popularity is that students can earn their associate degree without having to pay tuition or fees.

“That’s an option we steer everyone toward,” NWCTHS Program Dean Jenna Pollock said. “Our goal is to have them leave here with a high school diploma and an AA degree. We’ve found that most students are on that track.”

In addition to free tuition, NWCTHS students also have the opportunity to:

  • Explore possible careers and choose from a range of CPTC programs, including high-demand industry pathways.
  • Experience real-world situations and hands-on learning that prepare them to continue their education or launch their careers.
  • Jump directly into college classes and an adult learning environment
  • Access a range of resources offered on the CPTC campus.
  • Receive personalized support from counselors and staff.

Serving students’ unique needs

To meet the influx in enrollment at NWCTHS, more counselors have been added to serve the specific needs of high school students who suddenly find themselves in a college environment. Processes and systems have also been streamlined to ensure there is more time to build relationships between students, counselors and faculty and less time devoted to paperwork.

“These students are on a different pathway than CPTC adult students, so they need a different kind of support than our matriculated student population,” NWCTHS Interim Associate Director Amy Robertson-Bullen said. “We really specialize our services around how students fit within Clover Park Technical College.”

NWCTHS student Tanylia Kravis will graduate this quarter with her high school diploma, AA degree and master’s esthetics license.

NWCTHS students have their own dedicated orientation and receive specialized assistance through all phases of campus life, from registering for classes and locating their classrooms, to accessing campus resources and navigating life situations that arise.

“Students can feel overwhelmed when they come into a college setting, especially on a campus that has such a wide range of ages and so many different kinds of people,” Robertson-Bullen said. “We provide a safety net for students and their parents. We’re here if they need us.”

“I found a support system that I didn’t have anywhere else,” Kravis said. “The counselors and my teachers always took time to listen. And when I was struggling, they did everything in their power to help me.”

When Kravis graduates from NWCTHS in a few weeks, she’ll have her high school diploma, associate degree and master’s esthetics license.

“I highly recommend NWCTHS for anyone who is serious about pursuing an education and finding a fulfilling career,” Kravis said. “It’s crazy how supportive and intensive this school is. Now I’m encouraging my sister to attend.”

A beautiful balance

It’s not only students who feel supported.

Jeanne Whitbeck’s son, Evan, entered NWCTHS in 2021. At the time, classes were virtual because of the COVID pandemic. That made things especially challenging for Evan, who’s on the spectrum and has dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

“Online instruction was really hard for him, and he completely tanked his first quarter,” Whitbeck said. “He was so discouraged and said didn’t think he was cut out for school.”

NWCTHS student Evan Barsby plans on a career in helicopter maintenance.

Whitbeck contacted Evan’s counselor and teachers. “They were amazing,” she said. “They advocated for him to be there and gave him a second chance.” In-person instruction resumed the following quarter, and Evan has excelled ever since.

“I’ve been hands-off since that first quarter, and the program allows me to do that with a lot more ease,” Whitbeck said. “The school offers my son the beautiful balance of being treated like an adult while getting the support and oversight he needs.”

Today, Evan has a 3.8 GPA. He’s nearly finished his Power Plant Technician Certificate and will receive his AA degree and high school diploma next quarter.

“It blows my mind that my son is going to work on helicopters and is excited about his future,” Whitbeck said. “It’s all because he was given this opportunity. I understand why businesses are looking to CPTC for their future workforce.”

To learn more about Northwest Career & Technical High School, including enrollment information, visit the CPTC website.