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Posted on: April 29, 2021


MINT HILL, NC – Rocky River High School’s vision for the student body goes beyond classroom walls of brick and mortar, beyond pen and paper, beyond merely passing courses.  The school’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program prepares students for their career pathway while still in high school, giving them opportunities to gain college credits and forge connections within their chosen profession.  Rocky River educators understand the transitional moment that is high school graduation because they’ve been there before.  Not many schools offer this transactional moment of wisdom and guidance for upcoming generations, but RRHS remains selfless in its approach to better prepare the world changers of tomorrow.

IT Academy Students with instructor Mr. J. Fuller

First and foremost, RRHS’ vision is to create a safe school climate where all students can achieve and where teachers are empowered to be creative educators.  They strive to create a nurturing environment which embraces career readiness, academic proficiency, and global citizenship.  However, it’s important that a student’s growth doesn’t stop when they walk across the stage to accept their diploma.

Career Development Coordinator Elaine Friar and her team over the CTE program offer opportunities for students to take courses through CPCC.  Although still a relatively new program, in the Fall of 2019, CTE students received an astounding total of 59 Industry Certifications.  Through the NC Career & College Promise, juniors and seniors are able to save money on future tuition by getting a head start on college while earning both high school and college credits.  This makes for an easier passage to that next stage in students’ academic journey as they experience the college classroom firsthand.

Black Men with a Purpose at a RRHS Lunch and Learn, Feb 2020

Rocky River’s 2021-22 CTE Pathways include graphic and detail design, software development, sports partnership influence marketing, financial planning, and app development and web design.  Throughout the course of the four-year Career Academy, students are co-horted in core and IT classes focusing on programming, database administration, digital networks, web design, critical thinking and communication skills, and teamwork.  The curriculum includes field trips, job shadowing, internships, and other work-based learning activities.

Internships are available for students to work a minimum of 80 hours.  They are allowed to work during the summer months or throughout their senior year.  This work-based experience is flexible and can be paid, unpaid, or volunteer.

The Graphic & Digital Design pathway offers Intro to Adobe Design, Adobe Visual, and Adobe Video.  Certifications obtained include Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and Adobe Premier.

The Digital Marketing (with sports emphasis) pathway offers the following levels:  Sports Entertainment Marketing I & II, Sports Partnership & Influencer Marketing, and Digital Marketing.  Certifications include Adobe Creative Cloud and Google Analytics.

The Software Development program offers AP Computer Science Principals, Python, AP Computer Science A, and Software development fundamentals.  Students are certified in Microsoft Technical Associate:  Data Fundamentals and Software Fundamentals, both of which are appropriate entry points to a future career in technology.  If your child is interested in the software development pathway, James Reeves is available at

Local Webmaster business owner Robin Davis assists with SECU’s Reality of Money

The Financial Planning pathway’s levels include principles of Business and Finance and Financial Planning I & II with a certification in QuickBooks.

Atrium offers a Rise to Success program in which participants have an opportunity to obtain a part-time position at Atrium Health.  Students are expected to complete the Nurse Aide 1 course over the summer and pass the Nurse Aide 1 Certification Exam.  The tuition, stipend, and exam fee are paid for by Atrium Health.  Students will also be expected to enroll at CPCC, beginning in the 2021 Fall semester, with at least 9 college credit hours per semester.  Lastly, students will work for Atrium Health for the duration of their college career and an additional year after completion of their college degree.

Student Jordyn Logan earned her Criminal Justice Certificate through the Career and College Promise program, completing 9% of her Criminal Justice degree at UNC Charlotte.  Once she completes her final classes through CPCC, this percentage will only increase.

2020 RRHS graduate Alayasia Silver is in the program now.  She will be applying to the nursing program at CPCC in the Fall in hopes of transferring to Levine Children’s Hospital or University (maternity).  Lori Shafey of Human Resources, attests to the caliber of Alayasia’s work ethic, saying, “If I could have 30 more just like her, I’d be happy.”

Career Fair, March 2020

Dante Gil Rivas is a prime example of RRHS’ CTE program.  There was a moment in Dante’s high school career when he refused to take “no” for an answer, and he credits it as one of the most pivotal moments in his life.  He admits that it was bold of him to be aware enough at that age to push through the hurdles early on, but he says that it is important to stick to your belief in what you want to do in life.

As a weightlifter in his free time, he recognizes that the weights are indifferent.  All that matters is that the lifter can get to the next rep.  And the next.  And the next.  And that’s what he’s done in his dream career of choice:  architecture.  Due to scholarships, he was recently able to graduate debt-free with his Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from UNC Charlotte.  After being accepted to 8 graduate programs (including Georgia Tech), he will be attending Rice University’s Master of Architecture program (with a 9% acceptance rate), moving to Texas later this year.

Dante realizes that getting to this point in his life is not a straight path, not as cut-and-dry as it may sound.  It’s important to know when to ask questions at every set of crossroads, and to never be afraid to ask questions.  Inspiration came from his older sister, but it was up to Dante to press forward and step through those doors.  He has multiple goals after Rice University, including tiny home building (inspired by his travel abroad experience in observing Japan’s economic use of space), meeting the needs in architecture facades, researching, and teaching.

Rocky River High School’s mission is to give educators creative freedom, and it is working.  The numbers show it.  The students’ lives are constantly being forever changed positively, set out on courses they never before thought possible.  It’s because of the hardworking students and the nurturing and cultivating atmosphere school educators at Rocky River provide.