Mountain Crest senior Kaden Patten nominated as U.S. Presidential Scholar in Career and Technical Education
Congratulations to Mountain Crest High School senior Kaden Patten for being nominated as a 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholar in Career and Technical Education! The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 to recognize and honor some of our nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors. In 2015, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in CTE fields. Patten is one of five students in Utah to be nominated for the award.
Career and Technical Education programs (CTE) are designed to help graduating high school students enter the workforce armed with the skills and resources necessary to succeed in their field of study. CTE classes teach skills such as computer programming, robotics, woodworking, agriculture, sewing, communication, and life skills, to name a few. The Information Technology STEM program (IT STEM) is a collaboration with Bridgerland Technical College which allows students to earn college credit and certificates during their time in high school. Patten, who studies IT STEM, has been nominated as a 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholar in CTE not only for his many certifications and state IT competition awards, but also for his ingenuity and creativity.
Patten has participated in the IT STEM program for the past four years. He enjoys his CTE classes because students work hands-on with all fields of information technology. “I have always been interested in digital tech--even when I was a kid,” he explained. “I had a couple of friends who had a similar interest and they introduced me to the STEM program. I loved it. I was learning things I had never learned before--new things that I actually wanted to know about. To me, it was really interesting!”
One of Patten’s many creative projects is developing apps and Chrome extensions. One Chrome extension, in particular, is a meme soundboard, where users can find and use saved sounds. The project was sparked by Patten’s curiosity about Chrome extensions. Wanting to learn more, he looked up how to make them and then created a simple extension called “MemeBoard.” His friends suggested that he make an audio meme extension, which he did, and then published it on a whim. To his surprise, more and more users started using it. In response, Patten began improving the extension. Today over 2,000 users in over 60 countries utilize MemeBoard. Patten receives emails from all over the world asking him to add a sound or noise to the extension.
In addition to IT projects, Patten was also part of the Mountain Crest robotics team for several years, before it was suspended because of the pandemic. He currently has an internship at Skill Struck, a Utah-based technology company that teaches coding online. Patten has been writing programming challenges and publishing them on the Skill Struck website since October.
Amy Norman, an IT and business teacher at Mountain Crest, has worked closely with Patten and other IT students for the past four years since the program began. Mountain Crest’s IT Stem classes meet Monday through Thursday after school and are connected virtually with other high schools in the region. To become a facilitator, high school teachers take a week of training at Bridgerland Technical College every summer, taught by head teacher Bonnie Campbell. Norman believes that CTE provides students with a lot of opportunities and classes that would not otherwise be available, and prepares them for the future.
“I think that CTE classes help set these students apart,” Norman shared. “There is a big need for their skills out in the workplace. They are leaving high school with skills that will help them and make them more employable. And they have made a lot of friends. They all help each other.”
Angie Meacham, a Business and Marketing teacher at Mountain Crest, is also an advocate for CTE classes. She believes one of the best things about the CTE program is that there are so many different areas and opportunities that students can learn from. “CTE is really important for students to learn and grow,” Meacham said. “A lot of the classes are things that they will be using from here on out because a lot are geared toward their futures. They are learning things that are relevant to their future careers.”
Because technology is always changing, Information Technology classes present a challenge and learning opportunity not only for students but also for teachers as they work to develop new class plans and curriculums. Through CTE, students like Patten are able to learn valuable skills while still in high school and receive a jumpstart on their future success.