Curie High School offers New Classes for Students
SCHOOLS | October 24, 2018
Curie High School offers New Classes for Students

In an Intro to Engineering Design class at Curie High School, on the city’s Southwest side, sophomores passionately worked on their miniature bridges. This fall, the school is offering the new class as part of their CTE (Career and Technical Education) Engineering Program.

Also new at the school is the opportunity for all CTE students to apply for the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme, which addresses the needs of students who wish to specifically engage in career related education. This is geared toward high performing 11th and 12th grade students.

Freshman and sophomores at Curie are enrolled in the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP), which instills in them the knowledge and understanding to actively participate in a changing global world.


Students who would like to continue on the IB track, after MYP, can submit an application to be a part of the IB Career-related Programme.

“We just got authorized for the CP program this year so we have our first group of Career-related students who are going through the IB rigor,” said Alexa Rake, Curie’s IB CP Coordinator.

“I think with the CTE aspect of the IB, they’re really becoming critical thinkers and they’re working on their communication skills inside and out the classroom.”

In teacher Drew Katti’s class, students have been learning about the different types of bridges – suspension, arch, etc. They learned how much weight their group’s bridge could support by testing it out. In their small group this fall, students answered questions about their bridge. How is the bridge supported? What materials are used? What do you see in the bridge that is good, great, fantastic?

“There are full time jobs as an engineering drawer, where you don’t need a college degree,” Katti said. “If you learn the CAD software that we’re using, you can get a well paid job. The purpose here is to introduce them to the materials and instruction that can lead to a job pathway. Then we let the students decide where they want to go.”

The new class will consist of 10 projects. Students will be given a topic and materials. They’ll first draw a design and then proceed to building it.

“We cover design criteria, and after they build it, they need to check if they met their original design criteria,” Katti said.

Teacher talking to students

Omarion, 15, said that before the class, he’s only been interested in computers, but that this experience has been a good one so far.

“I’m expanding my knowledge and now I’m learning to build stuff so this has been a pretty fun experience,” he said.

Other students shared that the assignment was challenging, but they enjoyed taking the materials and building a bridge.

Their next class project is to build a water loop.

“I’m doing this piping project because there are jobs behind that skill set,” said Katti. “You can become a pipefitter and that’s a full time job.”


Students who are accepted into the IB CP Programme as juniors are required to take the Personal and Professional Skills class, another new class at Curie.

It’s a component of the Career-related Programme core. Teacher Matt Vonderheide said that students who’ve been accepted take the PPS class for two years. It’s designed for students to develop attitudes, skills and strategies to be applied to personal and professional situations and contexts. The course focuses on skills development for the workplace.

There are five central themes around both personal and professional skills: personal development, intercultural understanding, effective communication, thinking processes and applied ethics.

During one class this fall, students presented their personal philosophy project. They had to share what drives them, describe their personality type, strengths and weaknesses. Vonderheide said the assignment was to identify their strengths and to also understand their beliefs, and what led them to believe what they do. This understanding will benefit them in the workplace, he said.

Student showing work on screen

Antoine Hubbert, 17, said the class is pushing him to do more self reflecting.

“I think it’s a good opportunity,” he said. “I’m a teenager so I’m still trying to figure things out, but I know that I want to have a better life.”

Student speaking in front of class

Celia Lopez, 16, said the assignment helped her narrow down her philosophy.

“Failure is a part of learning, ” she said. “A lot of people, when they fail, they often blame themselves, and focus on what they did wrong and how they don’t want to try again. I think we should really think about what went wrong and just analyze and see what we can do better.”

The class has also helped her recognize her weaknesses and how she can begin to work on them.

“We get to learn more about ourselves, like who you really are, what you want to do with your life,” Celia said.

There are several benefits of students being in the CP Programme, said Rake.

“They’re really being pushed to the next level when it comes to being able to apply the skills,” she said. “Our CTE programs are built in a way that they are getting those opportunities, but this is pushing them further, to not only apply them, but look at what’s going on globally.”

The Personal and Professional Skills core class is helping them build up self confidence, self-awareness and how to advocate for themselves, Rake said.

“Students are gaining more than just skills, but a global view,” she said. “They’re not only looking at what’s in front of them, but at everything that comes along with the skills.”