Chautauqua Lake sixth graders tour Hewes Educational Center

Students learn to take their blood pressure during their visit to the Health Career classroom, one of the 12 stops during the Hewes Educational Center Taste of Tech.

ASHVILLE — A little metal, a little mousse and a whole lot of chocolate were just some of the “meals” served up during the first-ever Hewes Educational Center Taste of Tech.

More than 50 Chautauqua Lake sixth-graders recently spent the morning at the center, touring the classrooms, speaking with instructors and hearing from some of the juniors in each of the 12 Career and Technical Education program.

“We thought it was so important to expose (our students) to all of the different options available to them — and not just in high school but also beyond high school,” said Chautauqua Lake Elementary School Counselor Kara Smith. “Sometimes students get so focused on one thing and aren’t able to realize that everything is really connected. Skills they may use for one career may work for another.”

Mrs. Smith and Chautauqua Lake Elementary Computer Technology teacher Reid Bland are co-teaching a brand-new Career Development course for sixth-graders. The new class focuses on professional skills and serves as an introduction for students to all different career options.

“In Erie County they are (holding these types of tours) earlier and earlier, knowing kids who get exposure to more options tend to make better choices,” Smith said. “When you know all of your options you’re going to make a better choice because you’ve taken the time to explore it and you can see how it may relate to your strengths, your passions and your interests.”

Hewes Educational Center counselor Leighton Swanson hopes the first-ever Taste of Tech can be used as a springboard to reach even more districts for similar tours in the future. When speaking to the students, Swanson couldn’t help but reflect on a time when he was in their position and how fondly he remembers a certain career-related field trip.

“Fourty-six years ago I was in sixth grade at Bemus Point and I remember going into Jamestown and visiting a trucking company and I remember going into The Post-Journal and speaking with the sports editor, Frank Hyde,” Swanson recalled. “That was impactful and I hope this tour had a positive impact on the students from Chautauqua Lake.”

Students who attended the Taste of Tech split into two groups and toured each of the Career and Technical Education classrooms, including: Automotive Body Repair, Automotive Technology, Conservation/Natural Resource Management, Construction Technology, Cosmetology, Criminal Justice, Culinary Arts, Diesel Mechanics/Heavy Equipment Repair, Health Careers, Information Technology/Computer Systems, Graphics Technology and Small Animal Science.

“I’m excited we’ve made the connection with BOCES and that they’re on board with this,” Mrs. Smith said. “I really see it evolving into something students really look forward to.”

Career and Technical Education programming typically serves students in their junior and senior year of high school with students selecting the option to attend an E2CCB CTE program in their sophomore year.

Chautauqua Lake sixth-graders recently visited the Hewes Educational Center Taste of Tech. The collaborative event between Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES and the Chautauqua Lake Central School District introduces students in the new Career Development course to possible career options.

For more information on programming available at the Hewes Educational Center, please contact Leighton Swanson at 763-1801, ext. 3004, or visit