By Fermin Leal
Tenth-grader Ryan Streckfus glanced over the gauges on the control panel as he carefully lifted the steering wheel, hoping to keep his aircraft from stalling in the sky over the Long Beach harbor.
“Heading is now 150. Elevation is climbing back up to 3,000 feet. I’m back in control,” he said, from a flight simulator inside the aviation career pathway at Canyon High School in Anaheim where he’s training to become a pilot.
The program, the only one of its kind in the state, is part of a career technical education boom across California. As record numbers of high school students are applying to state colleges and universities, more are also receiving hands-on training in high-demand technical careers even before they earn their diplomas. The students, many beginning in the 9th grade, are in career pathways learning job skills alongside professionals in fields including aviation, health care, civil engineering, fashion design, tourism and new media.