U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen visited Arlington and Marysville schools on April 16 to tour local career and technical education opportunities for students.

He talked to students and stopped by both school districts to look at a variety of programs offered at the schools.

Larsen’s first stop was Totem Middle School’s communications program, where he was interviewed live by a couple of the students there.

“One of the top things I want to learn about so I can be more effective in Congress is about the career and technical education opportunities that students like you have, so at the federal level we can fund those programs and make them better,” he told the two Totem Middle School students.

The two student broadcasters said they have enjoyed working on the morning school news broadcast.

“I enjoy it, not just for all the stuff you’re able to do, but it’s helped me work with others with teamwork,” said student Anthony Cabillaje.

“It’s very interesting and there are a lot of new things to learn and that I haven’t tried yet, but I feel I’ve grown as a person,” said student McKenna Stewart.

Larsen also looked at the school’s graphic design program.

Students use either touch-screen tablets or silver drawing tablets to learn Photoshop and graphic design, according to teacher Sandy Chapin.

“Two different experiences for them and we switch halfway through,” she said.

“It takes a quarter just to learn all the basic Photoshop skills so the second half is where it gets really fun,” she said.

Finally, Larsen looked at Arlington High School’s manufacturing classes and talked to students who will compete in the Skills USA state competition.

“I’ll be tested on my welding knowledge and skills,” said student Ian Seward.

Student Cody Clark is also planning to demonstrate his welding skills at the competition.

“I started this class my sophomore year and I didn’t even know what a welder was, but I went to regionals and state last year,” he said, adding he looks forward to going to the state competition again this year.

The students are also competing in the community service category for the competition, and will give a presentation about their contributions to Arlington.

“We’ve made some metal bike racks for downtown Arlington and we’re presenting those as our community service project,” said Seward. 

Larsen said he was glad to get a chance to see how the CTE programs are currently operating.

“I want to use my office to send the message that career and technical education is an important part of the education system,” he said.

“We need skilled labor and these CTE programs are a foundation to build that skilled labor for the future,” Larsen said.

CTE programs are supported in part by federal funding, he said.

“There are federal dollars that help fund portions of career and technical education programs,” he said.

Larsen said he has introduced the Youth Access to American Jobs Act to create a stronger path for students into trade jobs.

“This would help states connect high school CTE programs with career and technical education programs in colleges and to apprenticeships, to create a clear pipeline for students to get those jobs,” he said.

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