Schools In Focus: A spotlight on CTE and economic development

Last Wednesday evening, the Sequim School District hosted its biannual Career Technical Education (CTE) Workforce Development Task Force. This gathering brought together representatives from various organizations, including the City of Sequim, the North Olympic Peninsula Builders Association and Sequim Sunrise Rotary.

The goal? To strengthen the link between education and workforce development, ensuring that our students are well-prepared for technical, trade and health careers right here in our local communities.

The school district is committed to offering clear pathways toward high-demand, prosperity-wage careers from early adulthood onward. Our vision aligns with the West Sound STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) Network initiatives and Career Connect Washington, emphasizing practical skills and real-world applications.

To this end, partnerships have emerged that benefit workforce development for both our students and region. For instance, the district enjoys a strong partnership with dual credit programming with Peninsula College and we receive regional workforce demographic data from the Clallam Economic Development Council to help us plan for future programming needs.

Within the Sequim School District, the CTE curriculum has flourished. The school district offers 66 approved courses that cover six programs of studies including Agriculture Sciences, Business and Marketing, Health Sciences, Family and Consumer Sciences, Skilled and Technical Sciences and STEM.

Programs in automotive, mechanical, and welding technologies have resulted in Rotary recognition for student-workforce training time, health sciences in middle school have two recent HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) state champions and agricultural sciences recently partnered with WSU for an industry standard expert meat-processing workshop facilitated on the high school campus.

The Sequim Middle School students are engaging with CTE pathways at an increased rate, igniting their passion for hands-on learning.

So where will the district grow CTE from here?

Center of Excellence, construction trades

Thanks to a $4.99M Local Community Project Grant recently approved in the 2024 supplemental capital budget, with the unwavering support of House District 24 Rep. Steve Tharinger, the Sequim School District will now embark on Phase 1 of a new CTE Center of Excellence.

This state-of-the-art facility will empower students to explore construction trades, technology, and industry-specific skills.

During the Workforce Development Task Force meeting, three new CTE programs were approved for next year’s course catalog, including Introduction to Industrial Trades (at Sequim Middle School), Construction Trades Foundations (Sequim High School) and AP Environmental Science (Sequim High).

In addition, Sarah Patterson from the AGC Foundation provided an informative briefing and introduction to Core Plus Construction curriculum. Core Plus Curriculum implementation in Sequim, particularly in construction trades, will equip students with practical knowledge and certifications necessary for future career readiness.

Horizons grant and beyond

Sequim School District students will also benefit from another recently celebrated regional partnership program. West Sound STEM Network announced that our region has been selected to be part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Horizons Regional Grant Program, a three-year initiative to help more local students continue their education after high school and achieve their goals.

Other core partners named in the grant are College Success Foundation and Peninsula College, both West Sound STEM Network members.

As one of the 15 member high schools in the partnership, Sequim High School will receive technical assistance to learn more about high-quality advising strategies and other programs proven to help students take the next step after graduation. Washington STEM, a nonprofit dedicated to removing barriers to STEM education and post-secondary credentials, will manage the Horizons grant program and help partners increase their capacity to access, analyze, and apply data so they can refine programs to meet student needs.

These resources are expected to enhance college and career readiness, guiding students toward financial aid (FAFSA) and post-secondary opportunities.

It is estimated that more than 70% of future jobs in Washington will require a post-secondary credential. Sequim School District recognizes that by providing career-connected learning and implementing programming and courses that support our students’ aptitudes and regional workforce needs, student readiness for post-high school career or college is enhanced.

CTE programming will provide a pathway for successful career opportunities right here at home on the Olympic Peninsula and beyond.

Regan Nickels is superintendent of the Sequim School District. “Schools in Focus” is a recurring column featured in the Sequim Gazette. See For more information or to comment on this column, email to