LPHS CTE Programs and Their Effect on Graduation Rates

For years, La Pine High School (LPHS) has had the lowest graduation rates out of all the schools in the Bend-La Pine District. In 2021, LPHS had a 59 percent graduation rate, while other schools in the same district averaged from 80 to 90 percent. Even though LPHS still has one of the lowest rates in the district, that does not mean it has not undergone significant progress. The school has successfully expanded from a 59 percent graduation average in 2021 to 70 percent last year. 

“I’m very happy and proud of our staff that we have double-digit gains,” said Scott Olszewski, the La Pine High School Principal.

Olszewski credits CTE (Career and Technical Education) programs for boosting the school’s graduation rates and increasing student engagement. The LPHS offers natural resource science, manufacturing technology and metals, criminal justice and law as well as business management as CTE programs. These diverse programs are thoroughly enjoyed by students and grant them a more hands-on approach to learning while also preparing them for their dream careers. 

“No matter what, I have my future covered here,” said Jaret Lorimor, a manufacturing technologies student who plans to pursue fields of either forestry or welding. He’s had the chance to experience both since the LPHS offers both of his desired fields of work.

Cameron Salvitelli, the current CTE instructor for the manufacturing technologies course, has run the class for six years and has built the curriculum from the ground up since its start in 2018. The program gained its resources through the ODE (Oregon Department of Education) via a grant and has stayed largely self-sufficient through its student projects. Projects that are not taken home by students are sold to fund future projects and improve important parts of the program such as dust collection systems and equipment. According to Mr. Salvitelli, 

“We try to teach students technical skills that they can take with them into their careers,” said Salvitelli, referencing the manufacturing programs.

Since LPHS teaches students are more intrigued by paths other than liberal arts, these CTE programs have propelled their desire to learn and manifested their capabilities in those areas. This approach to learning has kept students engaged in the classroom and, according to principal Olezewski, brings them to school.

LPHS’s main goal with CTE programs is to open doors to college for CTE students and to remind them that there are college paths that follow the more hands-on work that they desire. This way, students are more likely to pursue higher education after high school and solidify themselves in a career that they will enjoy.