Skip to main content

«  View All Posts

Career and Technical Education (CTE) | High School

5 Ways to Celebrate CTE Students

May 9th, 2024 | 20 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

Print/Save as PDF

As a career and technical education (CTE) teacher or administrator, celebrating the success of your students is paramount to the long-term sustainability of your program. To help current and future students, families, and your community comprehend the value of CTE in preparing learners for lifelong success, it’s essential to recognize the achievements of your learners in tangible ways. 

In this post, we’ll consider why recognizing your CTE students is so important. You’ll discover some of the best ways to celebrate CTE students in your program, including: 

  1. End-of-the-Year Banquets 
  2. Student Showcases 
  3. Celebrate Certification Earners 
  4. CTE Scholarships 
  5. Mementos and Graduation Regalia 

When you’ve finished reading, you should have plenty of ideas on how to recognize CTE students in your program so you can start celebrating your learners today! 

Why Is it Important to Celebrate CTE Students? 

Continually recognizing and celebrating CTE students in your program is crucial for several reasons. 

First and most importantly, your recognition as an educator validates their commitment and dedication to pursuing career success. Your students have chosen a CTE program because it will help them pursue their passions. By recognizing their achievements on a regular basis, you can better motivate them to continue striving for excellence as they enter the professional world. 

Second, celebrating CTE students boosts their confidence. Public acknowledgment reinforces their self-worth and encourages them to pursue their goals enthusiastically. It also fosters a sense of pride within the CTE community, both in your school and your community. 

When you celebrate your current CTE students, it can also serve as an inspiration for future learners. When younger students witness their peers being honored, they can envision their own potential and more seriously consider becoming CTE completers. 

Finally, celebrating CTE students strengthens the bond between educators, students, and industry professionals. When others in your community are aware of your students and their success, it can create additional opportunities for your program and students through work-based learning opportunities, internships and apprenticeships, and hiring certified CTE graduates. 

Now that we’ve reviewed the importance of honoring CTE student achievement, let’s look at some practical steps you can take to celebrate learners in your program! 

1. End-of-the-Year Banquets

Show your CTE students they truly matter by hosting an end-of-the-year banquet! A special end-of-the-year banquet offers an excellent opportunity to celebrate and honor the achievements of CTE students. 

Getting an invitation to an exclusive year-end gathering lets learners appreciate everything they’ve achieved during the school year as students and gives them something to look forward to amidst a season of exams and certification tests. 

Banquets are ideal occasions to highlight outstanding students. You can present awards such as: 

  • CTE Student of Year 
  • Most Improved CTE Student 
  • Excellence in a CTE Pathway 
  • Student Leader and Tutor 

You can also use this event to recognize participants in career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) or hand out certificates to earners of industry-based certifications. 

Finally, to maximize the impact of your celebrations, consider inviting local industry leaders to the festivities. They’ll have the opportunity to get to know your students, which could lead to work-based learning and employment opportunities later.  

You can use the banquet to display student work, host a guest speaker, or allow students to network with local industry professionals. Any of these activities will help elevate the standing of your program while helping individual learners highlight their achievement.

2. Student Showcases

Because career and technical education encompasses many pathways, your students have collectively created a diverse repertoire of work. Holding a student showcase is your opportunity to celebrate your students by displaying projects, presentations, and other materials they’ve completed throughout a semester or school year. 

While there’s no wrong time to host a showcase event, consider displaying student content when parents and community members can see it. Encouraging students to present and talk about their projects will help them develop professional communication skills while helping them take pride in their work. 

Examples of student showcases could include: 

  • A poster fair to showcase research projects completed by your health science students. 
  • A display of custom projects completed by your manufacturing students. 
  • A cooking demonstration from your FCS culinary classes. 
  • A simulation of computer code written by your information technology learners. 

Regardless of how you display student projects, your showcase is the perfect way celebrate your learners and their best work.

3. Celebrate Certification Earners

Another great way to celebrate CTE students is to honor your certification earners. Students who’ve earned industry-based certifications have often gone above and beyond basic classwork to earn a credential that will help them in their future careers. 

These professional certifications are developed by industry-leading businesses and organizations and validate that earners have the skills and knowledge necessary to work in a specific CTE pathway. 

There are many ways you can honor your certification earners, including recognizing them in the school yearbook, on graduation night, or to conincide with other events like a CTE banquet or awards night. 

If your students have earned a certification through the iCEV Testing Platform, each learner will receive a certificate and, if your program opts in, a digital badge they can use when applying for jobs. Programs with ten or more certified students are also eligible to receive a certification wall mount to publicly display their achievements. 

4. CTE Scholarships

CTE award nights are also the perfect time to celebrate CTE students with one of the most valuable gifts they could receive: scholarships for future educational opportunities. 

Although many CTE students will join the workforce directly out of high school, many others pursue professions that require further education. Students who go on to professional programs or pursue college degrees will incur added expenses on their way to achieving their career goals. 

Offering CTE scholarships can go a long way toward defraying these costs and is ideal for recognizing top performers and aiding students who have significant financial need. 

There are a few ways to go about funding scholarships, and depending on your program you might consider one or more of these options: 

  • Applying for special grants that include scholarship money to pass on to your students. 
  • Building community partnerships with companies willing to sponsor scholarships 
  • Working with your school’s education foundation to build an endowment for CTE scholarships 

Building the relationships and funding necessary to establish scholarships takes time, but it can be one of the most tangible ways to celebrate CTE students. 

As you look to expand your scholarship program, consider how offering more scholarships can motivate current and future students and further enhance the value of your CTE program. No matter how you go about creating scholarships, your learners will appreciate the opportunities they provide! 

5. Mementos and Graduation Regalia

As a final way to recognize your CTE students, you can honor your graduates on commencement night. This last way to celebrate your students can really help your program and learners stand out on a night where every graduate has something to celebrate. 

There are several different ways to recognize CTE students at graduation ceremonies, such as: 

  • Presenting honor cords to graduates 
  • Special hoods or stoles for CTE completers 
  • Special tassels for students in your programs 
  • Awarding patches in each CTE pathway 

However, you don’t have to stop at awarding these mementos to your graduates. Small items like patches and pins make gifts for all CTE students. You can use them to recognize CTSO participation, work-based learning hours, or concentration in a particular pathway. 

Even these small gestures can be lasting reminders of the hard work each of your students put in and the lasting value of career and technical education. 

Celebrate How Your Students Will Transform the Economy 

Your CTE students are truly worth celebrating. As an educator you understand that the commitment each learner makes to studying a CTE pathway will pay off in career opportunities to last a lifetime. 

Regardless of how you celebrate your students, the recognition you give them will help honor their success, highlight your program, and inspire future CTE students. 

But you don’t have to wait to start the celebrations! You can celebrate your CTE learners today by getting them excited about their potential to transform the economy as valued industry professionals. 

To get started, visit the iCEV Transforming the Economy page. You’ll discover resources to help you and your program celebrate CTE throughout the year. You’ll find graphics and posters to share with your students, along with videos and articles that emphasize the transformative impact of CTE: 

Visit the Transforming the Economy Page