Southern Lehigh Expands Opportunities for Students to Help Explore Path Ways


Alaina Patel

Students at SLHS have many different programs to choose from

Over the years, Southern Lehigh has expanded opportunities for students to gain valuable educational experiences outside of school before pursuing paths after graduation. The most prominent of these programs include Emerging Health Professionals, Lehigh High School Scholars, Lehigh Career and Technical Institute (LCTI), and Diversified Career Occupations (DCO).

Emerging Health Professionals

High school juniors interested in the healthcare field are eligible to apply to the Emerging Health Professionals program for their senior year. The program focuses on providing students with valuable skills for continued education and careers in the healthcare field. 

“One of the most valuable things that I learned while enrolled in Emerging Health is [that] you need to take each problem step by step and identify what you already know,” senior Jillian VandeBunte said. “Nine times out of ten you’re not going to know a diagnosis or solution to a problem right off the bat. It takes work.”

The program is a partnership between Lehigh Career & Technical Institute (LCTI), Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), Penn State Lehigh Valley (PSULV), and Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC). Students in the program spend half of each day at Southern Lehigh, and the other half at the aforementioned locations, participating in classes and hands-on activities.

“Because I chose Penn State Lehigh Valley, on Mondays and Wednesdays [I leave] SLHS and  eat lunch, then go to class there. On Tuesdays, Thursday’s, and Fridays, I go all the way to LCTI for class there,” VandeBunte said. 

In addition to the classroom material students learn in Emerging Health, the hands-on field experience provides students with background on how to conduct themselves in a professional environment. 

“While involved in the program, you are given so many opportunities whether it is learning something new, interacting with patients, or building relationships with people who already are in the health field and listening to them as they talk about their career,” VandeBunte said. 

Lehigh Scholars

At the end of their junior year, Southern Lehigh students qualify to apply for the Lehigh High School Scholars program. Each year, Lehigh University selects a maximum of three Southern Lehigh Students to participate in this program, where they attend the university two days a week for classes. 

“My class is after all my high school classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I never have to leave school in the middle of the day,” senior Sophie Wen said. “For anyone who does want to apply in the spring, scheduling shouldn’t be that much of a concern.”

After acceptance into the program, students select course preferences from a list. Although their preferences are taken into consideration, students aren’t guaranteed entrance into their top choices. 

“I was hoping to take Linear Algebra but it wasn’t available so I ended up taking a neuroscience course instead,” Wen said. 

As a whole, the program serves to enhance the educational experience of high school seniors by providing them with the opportunity to experience college before enrolling the following year. This approach gives students the chance to adapt to both the academic pacing and overall feel of life as a college student. 

“I like to joke that this class at Lehigh is a free trial of the college experience for me. I’ve tried different styles of taking notes for my reading every time we take notes,” Wen said. “I’ve also learned what the vibe is like and that libraries are fantastic.”

Overall, Wen believes that the program is a valuable addition to her high school experience. She highly recommends applying for the program, but has a word of advice for future applicants.

“Don’t put off your essay until the last minute. I think I wrote a kind of crummy personal statement for the Lehigh application and I’m glad I had that preparation before I wrote my actual personal statement,” Wen said.


Lehigh Career & Technical Institute (LCTI), a staple of Southern Lehigh’s course offerings, enables students to gain valuable experiences with industries in the Lehigh Valley. The program aims to prepare students for their future career pathways. 

“This program can only help me with experience and knowledge,” freshman Tucker Jayne said. “I want to get the best job I can out of high school and eventually own my own business.”

When enrolling in LCTI, students choose six programs from LCTI’s five areas of study: arts and humanities, business and communication technology, engineering, health and human services, and industrial technology. After sampling the chosen programs, students eventually select one area of specialization. 

“I chose to do welding at LCTI because I know that I can get a good job right out of high school and LCTI’s program is one of the best in the country,” Jayne said. 

LCTI also offers many options for scheduling. Students may choose to attend for a half day, taking academic classes at their sending school and technical classes at LCTI. All 10th to 12th graders also have the option to attend LCTI for a full day, where they take academic classes that supplement their chosen field of study in addition to their program-specific courses. The final option is flex-time enrollment, where students may choose to attend LCTI for one or more periods a day for one or both semesters. 

“I leave Southern Lehigh at 10:50 and go to LCTI, where I eat lunch, go to my lab, and work on projects,” Jayne said. “I don’t think I’ll transition to full days at LCTI, but it would be more convenient to do a full day there.”

With LCTI’s ability to supply students with hands-on experience in real-life scenarios, the program provides amazing opportunities to prepare students for life after high school.

“I’ve learned that everything I do now, both at LCTI and in general, will help me later in life to reach my goals,” Jayne said. 


Another standout program of Southern Lehigh is DCO, which allows students in 11th or 12th grade to work a paid job for half of the school day. The part-time work students conduct serves to help them gain experience in their field of interest. 

“It’s a program in which you can go to your normal classes up until a certain time -depending on your schedule- and then you are able to go to work and earn credits for it as if it is an actual class,” senior Jayla Douglas said. 

Students in the program are required to work at least 15 hours a week and meet weekly with a certified school-to-career counselor from LCTI. In addition, students are given a supplemental assignment each week to complete.

“We get weekly homework assignments that vary. So we have a workbook that we have to complete small sections of, or we get online assignments,” Douglas said. “Then, every Monday at some point throughout the day we have a meeting with our instructor who goes over what we’re missing and the next homework assignment.”

Applying for the program is a multi-step process. Students are required to fill out an LCTI application, a training agreement, and complete any supplemental materials for the job. Further preparation involves communication with the student’s guidance counselor about the necessary schedule changes. 

“Depending on the classes and amount of credits needed, a different person’s schedule will vary,” Douglas said. “I have any core classes or electives in the morning and then I am able to leave as early as 10:23 am.”

On top of the relevant job experience that students obtain in order to gain exposure to  and make decisions about their future career paths, DCO students also learn important life skills.

“My future goal career-wise is to be an American Infantry Army Soldier. I’ve already enlisted and I’m leaving in June,” Douglas said. “Proper safety, emotional control in the workplace, and how to conduct myself appropriately won’t only be used for civilian jobs, it can be applied in the military as well.”

The impacts of the program are beneficial, providing valuable time-management and communication skills that expand on the high school curriculum. Douglas encourages students to apply to the program for the unmatched opportunities it provides.

“I would say this program is one of the most helpful in terms of teaching responsibility and basic job skills,” Douglas said. “In reality, no one will pay you based on how many As you got on your report card. It’s based on your efficiency and ability to maintain your work.”