Shadow Hills High School (SHHS) offers youth four CTE programs with technology being a key element in many.

This article is a continuation of the summer series on CTE (Career and Technical Education) programs throughout the Desert Sands Unified School District. CTE programs are offered at five of the district high schools with technology being a key element in many. Today’s article highlights four such programs at Shadow Hills High School (SHHS) located in north Indio. DSUSD is an open enrollment district and students living within our boundaries can apply to participate in any of the CTE programs. For more information on any of the CTE programs at Shadow Hills High School visit the district website at and select Shadow Hills High School from the ‘Select a School’ drop down menu.

SHHS Computer Science Pathway

By Sharon Kalkoske, Ed.D., college and career assistant principal, in collaboration with teacher Derek Orkney

SHHS Offers Youth Smorgasbord of Career Options

SHHS Computer Science logo

The Computer Science Pathway (CS) at SHHS is composed of three courses: Computer Science Principles, Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science, and Cybersecurity. Students learn programming skills and languages, earning them certifications right out of high school. AP Computer Science Principles is a fast-paced survey type class covering HTML, Scratch, Python, databases, and more. AP Computer Science prepares students for the rigorous AP test in the JAVA programming language. Cybersecurity is an activity, project, problem learning-based course. Personal, network, and Internet cybersecurity concepts are an important aspect of the program. Puzzles and game challenges are also an important part of the curriculum. As teacher Derek Orkney says, “If you like puzzles and making things, computer science is where you get to make it happen.”  Many of the computer science students join the school’s student-driven ESports club. SHHS held one of the first competitions in the district. The enterprising students participated in the district’s Goldfish Bowl competition (think Shark Tank) and received funding for additional computers to enhance their skills.

Many students matriculating from Richard Oliphant Elementary School to Desert Ridge Academy (middle school) along the Computer Science Continuum take the next step on the K-12 continuum at SHHS.


SHHS Aviation Academy

By Sharon Kalkoske, Ed.D., college and career assistant principal, in collaboration with teacher Matthew Stanford 

SHHS Offers Youth Smorgasbord of Career Options

Aviation logo

The Aviation Academy at SHHS is undergoing a transformation. With a new teacher at the helm, the Knights’ focus this year will be on our Aviation Internship Capstone Course. Partnering with Bermuda Dunes Airport and Palm Springs International Airport, students learn hands-on skills designed to meet the ever increasing aviation industry standards of engineering, mechanics, and customer service. Internships capitalize on foundational courses for both manned and unmanned (drones) aviation and guides those students interested in taking Federal Aviation Administration tests to accomplish their dreams. Additionally, drone technology will be explored and practiced in the new Environmental Resources: Energy, Environment and Utilities (EEU) Pathway. (See article below.)

The Aviation Club will continue to work with community partners to explore all aspects of aviation. The school’s aviation classroom and flight simulator software will enhance opportunities for aviation career education.


SHHS Environmental Science

By Sharon Kalkoske, Ed.D., college and career assistant principal, in collaboration with teacher Matthew Stanford 

SHHS Offers Youth Smorgasbord of Career Options

EEU logo

Power it up! The Energy, Environment, and Utilities (EEU) Pathway teaches students about the multiple sources of energy from wind to solar to wave and how these sources generate power in a clean and environmental capacity using project-based learning.

The program begins during sophomore year, exploring sources of renewable energy: wind, solar, hydroelectric, and biofuels. Working with solar, thermal, chemical, and mechanical sources of clean energy students learn how to apply physics, geography, chemistry, biology, geometry, algebra, and engineering fundamentals. The most efficient and appropriate use of energy production is explored along with relationships among work, power, and energy. Students go “out into the [wind] field” to see turbines powering the Coachella Valley, along with photovoltaic solar cells and thermal solar power that convert the desert sun into energy that cools our homes.

Year two focuses on energy transmission and distribution including the introduction to AC/DC power, transformers, the electrical grid and “Smart Grid”, and consumer load on the electrical system. Students use Ohm’s Law, Joules Law of heating, the Root Mean Square Law, the Pythagorean Theorem, and trigonometric principles to understand how energy travels along power lines and is converted from direct current to alternating current to end up, ultimately, in homes and businesses. Students gain a conceptual understanding of how power companies move power to increase and decrease voltage with the use of transformers to meet the needs of the end-user. They learn to design working transformers, capacitors, inverters, and a power supply.

Senior year emphasizes clean energy careers and is designed to give students targeted, intensive study in one of three career pathways: environmental resources, energy and power technology, and telecommunications. The focus is mainly on projects, portfolio development, field experiences, and preparation for industry certifications. As this is the capstone course, students are expected to interview for and maintain an internship. Field experiences are integrated into the course, including field trips, mentorships, and guest speakers.

As teacher and course instructor Matthew Stanford says, “Clean energy is the fastest growing job sector.  Future jobs will be found in clean energy.”


SHHS Academy of Technology and Landscape Management (TLM)

By Sharon Kalkoske, Ed.D., college and career assistant principal, in collaboration with teacher Ariel Gonzalez

SHHS Offers Youth Smorgasbord of Career Options

SHHS TLM students use hands-on learning..

The Academy of Technology and Landscape Management (TLM) is a three course University of California approved California Partnership Academy (CPA). Students learn about careers in the agriculture industry and, more specifically, about careers in the landscape industry. This three-year program transitions students into careers or assists in their continued education. Students learn about water conservation and resource allocation, irrigation systems, turf management, careers in the agriculture and natural resources sector, participate in internships, obtain industry certifications (OSHA, for example), participate in SkillsUSA events, and take field trips around the Coachella Valley to study golf course management and water conservation.

CTE Department Chair and CPA Coordinator, Ariel Gonzalez says, “Many of our students have entered the workforce straight out of high school while others have gone on to higher education. We have partnered with local industries and College of the Desert. They have guided our curriculum and instruction. Students learn about turf management, pest control, irrigation systems, and workplace safety.”

Craig Ellis, director of golf at Eldorado Country Club commented that, “Eldorado Country Club has been part of the TLM program for many years. Students come to Eldorado with practical experience and the technical knowledge that contributes to our team’s success. Millennials, oftentimes, get knocked for their work ethic. That has not been my experience. It takes commitment, perseverance, and a willingness to learn to show up at five in the morning to start your job. Eldorado is proud to be associated with the TLM program. We are excited to grow our partnership with Mr. Gonzalez and the TLM students.”


NOTE: Registration is now open for preschool at DSUSD. Call 760-771-8775 for more information.

Image Sources

  • SHHS Computer Science logo: DSUSD
  • Aviation logo: DSUSD
  • EEU logo: DSUSD
  • Shhs-tlm-students-use-hands-on-learning.: DSUSD
  • DSUSD Superintendent Scott Bailey takes the simulator for a flight.: DSUSD