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The student news site of Hollis Brookline High School

The CavChron

The student news site of Hollis Brookline High School

The CavChron

A New Angle on CTE: Q&A with Cait Engle

Mason Marshall
CTE Student Cait Engle ‘25, dressed in scrubs, holds a cat. Cait Engle is participating in a Veterinary Science Career Technical Program at Alvirne High School. “We get to work with all of those small animals and learn about the different care and behavior associated with each one,” said Engle.

The traditional high school schedule features the same old, somewhat “boring” academic classes: English, history, math, science.  For some driven students, these classes feel “stale” and don’t spark enough curiosity or creativity.  Meet the NH Career Technical Education (CTE) Program.  This program, spearheaded by the NH Department of Education, offers hands-on experience focused on future careers for students.  “It will help me better understand my college major and it could potentially have me do better in classes,” said Marketing CTE student Kathleen Wilkish ‘25.  She is just one of the many students in these various programs.

Offered at 28 high schools scattered across the state, NH CTE boasts over 9,300 students within its 75+ career pathways.  For Cait Engle ‘25, an avid animal lover with an extensive interest in the veterinary field, CTE was the perfect option.  Currently enrolled in the Veterinary Science 1 program at Alvirne High School, Engle has a lot of wisdom to share regarding this different angle of learning.


What inspired you to partake in the Veterinary Science 1 CTE program?

I’ve always really loved animals, I have three horses; we have ducks, chickens and dogs.  Having all those animals has really inspired me to have a career that takes care of animals.  That passion drove me to the Veterinary Science CTE program because I wanted a program that would teach me more about the medical side of animals, but also give me a chance to work on handling and caring for animals that I don’t have personal experience with.


What experiences and hands-on learning do you participate in through this career educational program?

We have a lot of different animals there.  We will go into the kennel and work with guinea pigs, hamsters, ferrets, rabbits, and we even have chinchillas. We get to work with all of those small animals and learn about the different care and behavior associated with each one. Also, on the farm, we have cows and donkeys that we work with. This is a really great opportunity to gain large animal and equine experience, especially for students who haven’t worked with them before. The best part of CTE is that we get to apply the knowledge that we have learned which I believe gives a deeper understanding of the curriculum. 


How do you see this program preparing you for your future education and career?

I hope to become a DVM [Doctor of Veterinary Medicine] and I think that this program is going to give me a head start that a lot of other applicants might not have because I’m going to have a lot of hands-on experience with a variety of animals.  More than that, I’m going to really know the medical side of their behavior, different treatment options for a variety of ailments, and general care to support mental and physical animal health. All of these skills I gain will better prepare me for both college and my future career. 


How does this program fit in with your typical schedule at HB?

The CTE program takes up the first three periods of my day, the idea being that you get one for the actual class and two for driving.  Alvirne in particular starts earlier than Hollis so I actually get there 15 minutes before Hollis even starts.  This means that I end up back in Hollis with enough time to pretty much have a full third period of study.  Which is really nice because it gives me some time to kind of relax, meet with teachers or just get caught up on schoolwork without having to rush right to my next class.  


Could you describe a typical class in your program and how it differs from a regular academic setting?

A lot of days we will do some kind of notes on animal behavior or animal welfare, change into our scrubs or our barn clothes, and go into the kennel or out into the barn to work with the animals.  Usually, we’re doing cleaning and handling.  If we’re working with the small animals, we’ll clean their cages and spend some time holding them to give them some human interaction.  If we’re working with the large animals we’ll go out there and while we clean out their stalls we brush them and pet them so they too can have bonding time; this bonding time is very important for their mental health as it helps to desensitize them to stressors and make their overall life more relaxed.


Have you encountered any challenges with taking a CTE program?

I am very used to working by myself when it comes to animals and it’s definitely been a change for me to work as more of a team when taking care of animals.  You have to be more conscious about talking to people and communicating about who’s going to do what task and making sure that everything’s done.  Therefore, I think my biggest challenge has been taking my individual experience and working with that in a team setting.


What has been your favorite assignment or project you have worked on in your CTE program?

My favorite assignment that we’ve worked on in CTE was probably our dairy judging unit.  As part of that, we got to go out onto the farm and the farm manager pulled out three cows for us and we were able to practice with them.  It was really interesting that we got to take this knowledge that we had been learning such as their body structure, udder capacity and milk quality, and actually be able to see that on real animals. This was all in practice for the Deerfield Fair. Alvirne always places well at the Deerfield Fair and I think that the hands-on learning is what makes it happen because we, unlike other schools, actually get the chance to apply our knowledge on real animals.


Can you share a memorable or impactful moment you’ve experienced during your time in the program?

My most memorable moment was probably when we went to the Deerfield Fair.  We went there to do dairy judging as part of the FFA, which is the Future Farmers of America.  We spent our morning judging different age groups and breeds of dairy cows.  After we were done with that, we got to go and spend some time at the fair, going on rides and exploring all the different kinds of food.  We also got to go and explore all the other animals they had at the fair.  We ended the day with a service to honor an FFA member who has done a lot for the New Hampshire community, which was a nice reminder of the community benefit FFA has. 


Do you have any advice for students interested in participating in CTE programs?

For anyone who’s interested in a CTE program, I would really advise that it’s something that they’re passionate about.  CTE is meant to be something that prepares you for your career.  Even though it definitely could be something you’re interested in, you need to consider the fact that it takes up so much of your schedule and doesn’t allow you to take electives. I chose my CTE program because I love animals but also because that’s the career I want to go into.  You just need to make sure you have the passion and future outlook when you select your CTE course because it has such a large impact on your daily life.


If your CTE program had a theme song, what would it be and why?

I think that for Vet Science especially, our theme song would probably be something like “Vienna” because a lot of us we work hard, we are very passionate, and we’ve been told “you need to slow down and enjoy being a kid” and “just live your life.”  For a lot of us though, we have big dreams and it’s hard because you can’t always slow down when you have big goals because you know that you need to work for them.  Vet Science is a hard career and I think that there’s not a lot of time for us to just relax because we’re always pushing for the next best thing even if some people consider us to be crazy.


If your CTE program experience were an ice cream flavor, what would it be, and how does it represent your experience?

I think that our ice cream flavor would be rainbow. Vet Science CTE is united by a love for animals but love for animals can come from a lot of different places.  We have a lot of different people who come from a lot of different backgrounds, it’s a very diverse class.  I think that it makes us special and having all those different backgrounds allows us to learn from each other, and improve our communication and how we work with animals.


Monday through Friday, you can find Engle discovering the world of Veterinary Science at Alvirne, while still conquering her general academic classes at HB.  For those considering a CTE program, Wilkish believes that “you’ll have a great time; it’s worth it.”

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About the Contributor
Mason Marshall
Mason Marshall, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Mason Marshall ‘25 is a first-year journalism student and is ready to conquer the world of reporting all things news for CavChron!  He is interested in incorporating a wide range of opinions through interviewing lots of people in the HB community.  In 2024, Mason begins his new monthly column, HBHS Happiness Journal, in hopes of highlighting joy and positivity in the community. When he’s not being a STEM-wizz in the HBHS Science Olympiad and Math Teams, Mason loves to race down the slope on the HBHS Alpine Ski Team.  Anytime it snows, you are bound to catch him somewhere on the mountain chasing the powder.  Mason is also an avid lover of all things National Parks and outdoors, so sun or snow he will likely be on some form of trail.  He also loves supporting the local community through his involvement as the HBHS Red Cross Club Vice President.  Fun fact: Mason has donated his blood!    Awards: Best of SNO: Conan Gray Finds New Sound with ‘Found Heaven’

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