“Dream It, Engineer It, Build It” Trade Tech High STEM Focused School


This article was first posted in January 2019
TR Robertson – Trade Tech High was founded by Doreen Quinn, CEO of New Haven Youth & Family Services. Doreen saw a need for a school that would service a need she felt was missing in the community, a school that would offer a curriculum with a career directed focus as well as an academic focus. Principal Phil Lutgen is excited about the direction the high school is headed and what the school has to offer students fortunate enough to be enrolled there. Trade Tech occupies several buildings at 1132 N. Melrose Dr., Vista, next door to UFO (Upholstery Fabric Outlet). Inside the buildings, 143 students and a teaching staff of 16 are working hard preparing students for their road to future careers.

Trade Tech High is a STEM focused school that opened in September of 2008. They are a tuition free, state funded charter school. Along with state funds, the school applies for numerous grants for the various machines and equipment needed for their curriculum. There are occasional fundraisers implemented to purchase items for their physical education classes. Principal Lutgen was proud to point out that Trade Tech has a 99% graduation rate. The smalls classes, averaging 17 per class, a Personalized Learning Plan for each student, hands-on class room experiences and the schools “No child is left unknown” philosophy plays a role in the success the school has shown over the years.

Trade Techs Mission Statement is

“To graduate students with a strong blend of academic and work force competencies necessary for future success in post-secondary education and in 21st Century technical work force”.

With their varied classroom experiences offered, Trade Tech offers a fundamentally different learning experience that meets the needs of students today. Principal Lutgen added that not every kid in high school is a college bound student. If college offers additional education for a student’s future work experience, then college preparation is offered. If there is another way for a student to prepare for future work, then Trade Tech also offers a pathway for that student to follow.

They offer a Core curriculum of Science, Math, English/Language Arts, Foreign Language and Physical Education. After this, the similarities with a “normal” public school end.

The remaining curriculum selections available for a student to experience include Computer Science, Construction, Building Maintenance, Engineering, Civil engineering and Green Architecture, Robotics, Theater, Manufacturing, Bike/Automotive Repair and the soon to be added Game Design and Mechatronics.

Along with this, each student is required to take a Success Skills class in the 9th grade and a Personal Finance class in the 11th grade.

The Personal Finance Class …. should be offered in every school in the United States. The class is designed to teach students how to balance a budget, how to fill out tax forms, how to develop the life skills everyone needs to function in today’s society. Students also meet every day with an assigned advisor to check on their progress in school. The 80 minute classes function around a 4×4 block schedule. Students also have to read for 20 minutes a day after lunch, in something other than their phone, computer, or a magazine.

Students also have to complete two school wide projects. The first one is a humanities based project on Social Media. This was presented and displayed at the schools December 6th Night of Excellence and Trade Techs Open House. The Open House was open to anyone interested in finding out more about the school and to see demonstrations and exhibits on display. Another project was a beautifully designed chess set completed by students in the metal workshop. One of the community sponsors, Meziere Enterprise, supplies all of the metal for the metal workshop. They also have a sponsorship for the equipment with Axis to assist with the expensive equipment needed for the metal work. Trade Tech will be using chess boards designed by New Haven Services.

Trade Tech has a number of clubs on campus and students are encouraged to start a club if they have a specific interest. Currently there is a Music Club, a Fishing Club, an Outdoor Club, and a Key Club. Students in the Robotics class have won a number of awards, including first place at the World’s Championships, making them the #1 Robotics High School Program in the world. Students in the Architecture class have won Best in Show at several contests as well. There is an opportunity for students to participate in sports programs as well, including basketball, soccer, and flag football. These are not C.I.F. approved sports teams, but rather more of a recreation league.

One of the proudest accomplishments the school has is the number of students who have moved on to jobs in local businesses, in the field they were focusing in at Trade Tech. Businesses like TJ Automotive, D & H Water and New Haven Youth & Family Services all have hired graduates of Trade Tech.

A recent graduate of Trade Tech designed the brewing system for Belching Beaver Brewery.

HG Fenton Company offers several summer internships to qualified Juniors and Seniors. Statistically, 60% of Trade Techs graduates go to college to continue their education, 30% go immediately into the work force and 10% are still deciding what to do with their life. Some of the students earn college credit through Palomar Community College while completing their high school course work.
Encouragement continues every day at Trade Tech. A behavior reward system is set-up to reward students with a variety of programs for correct behavior and academic success. This fits into the culture they want each student to go through – Relationship, Relevance and Rigor. The Vista Unified School District provides hot lunches students and staff can purchase as there is a Vista Teen Food Pantry set-up where students can stop in and grab food for lunch or to take home. This is also set-up at other high schools in the district.

A tour of the campus shows a number of new improvements underway. A new Fitness Center for students is under construction as well as a new classroom for the new Mechatronics Class that will be offered. Many other projects are in the planning stages that will involve moving classes and equipment to bring programs and curriculum areas closer together. All of this will enforce Trade Techs motto of “Dream It, Engineer It, Build It” for all of their programs. This California Partnership Academy offers students a chance to not just talk about something they want to eventually do, but a chance to actually become involved in areas of interest now and find out what it takes to become involved in possible future jobs.

Doreen and Phil are excited about the future Trade Tech has as the school grows. The school may offer a hospitality and tourism as well as medical services program in the near future. Doreen mentioned that

“Trade Tech will be one of the recipients of funds from The Farmers Insurance Open this year”.

This is a school that offers something different from the normal public high school and school that offers students, who need something different for their educational program, a chance to explore a wide range of career opportunities and a chance to be successful as they make choices that will change their future.

To enroll your student click on this link.