Although it has been around since 1976, the Career Education Center (now called the CEC Middle College of Denver), has remained one of Denver’s hidden gems. The high school is part of the Denver Public Schools and is a magnet school—meaning it offers specialized programs that are not available at the traditional high schools. CEC focuses on Career and Technical Education (CTE), teaching students the skills they will need in the workplace, whether they choose to enter directly after high school or following the completion of two and four-year degrees. Originally developed as a trade school, CEC has changed with the times. No longer a school that focuses solely on the traditional trades (welding, construction, auto mechanics, etc.), CEC also includes professional courses to give students a head start on career exploration; preparing them for the rigors of a college education and eventual pursuit of a position within their chosen area of interest.
Students learn using state-of-the-art technology within the school, but also have many opportunities to work in their career fields through practicums and internships. This allows students to get a jump on gaining the experience that will help them achieve their career goals.
CEC is a middle college and is a member of the Middle College National Consortium (http://www.mcnc.us). These schools are collaborations between school districts, colleges, parents and business representatives. Students begin earning college credit as early as their freshman year in high school, and as juniors and seniors do the majority of their coursework on the Community College of Denver campus in concurrent enrollment. In other words, they are earning both high school and college credit for their classes. This affords students the opportunity to graduate from high school with up to a year or more of college credits.
The top 10 little known facts about CEC:
- CEC is free! Enough said.
- CEC has full and part time programs: CEC offers two types of academic programs, full-time and part-time. Full-time students attend CEC for both their academic program and career courses. Part-time students attend their home high schools for their academic classes and attend CEC for either their 2.5-hour morning or afternoon block and participate in a career class.
- CEC offers industry certifications: A number of programs offer the opportunity to sit for industry certificates, including: Certified Nursing Assistant (Medical Careers), American Council on Exercise Personal Trainer Exam (Fitness Training/Human Performance), Adobe Software Certification (Multimedia/Graphic Design).
- CEC places student interns: Could you use some extra help around the office while offering a student a learning experience at the same time? Students at CEC have the opportunity to culminate their high school education with an internship. Juniors and seniors are eligible to participate and spend 8 hours a week working in a local business, applying what they have learned in their career classes. If you are interested in bringing an intern to your business, contact Lorraine Smith, Executive Internship Coordinator at: Lorraine_Smith@dpsk12.org or 720.423.6648
- CEC students can graduate with one year or more of college credits: Students spend the bulk of their junior and senior year taking classes that provide college credit. There is no charge for the classes as long as the student passes the course. (Should a student fail, he/she would be required to reimburse the fee) This opportunity saves students money as the credits transfer to all Colorado community colleges and most four-year colleges in and out-of-state.
- CEC is open to any student in the Denver Metro area: All students in the Denver Metro area are eligible to apply for full-time enrollment at CEC. The part-time program is open to all DPS students and to students outside DPS with the permission of the student’s home high school.
- CEC operates a full-service restaurant: Ready for an exceptional dining experience? Visit the Eliot Street Café at CEC. On any day of the week you will find students hard at work learning the ins and outs of the restaurant business from front of the house service to marketing and management. In the kitchen students learn production skills, including prep, pantry, baking, line cooking and scullery skills, all while operating a full-service restaurant that is open to the public Tuesdays through Fridays (11:30-1:30). Come join us for lunch!
- CEC has a full-time preschool: Not only does CEC house a high school, but within the school walls is a four-star (as rated by Qualistar Early Learning) preschool program that is open to the community. Preschoolers ages 3-5 are eligible to enroll on a space available basis. The preschool offers a dual learning environment at CEC. While the children take part in their lessons, the high school teaching careers class has the opportunity to observe and interact with the class in a student-teaching capacity.
- CEC has an automotive repair shop open for community repairs: Need a repair done on your car? CEC’s Automotive Technology class takes in cars for routine service issues and at a fraction of the price you would normally pay for service. Students learn how to rebuild engines, diagnose and repair problems and operate a parts department. If your car needs a little love, contact CEC for more information, contact Mike Kelly, Auto Instructor at: Mike_Kelly@dpsk12.org or 720.423.6689.
- CEC takes pride in its community: As part of their classes and as individuals, students have opportunities to volunteer, fundraise, participate in community events and to partner with local organizations, offering a helping hand. Students learn that they have a place in the community at large and that they can contribute to the success of others.