Kayla Behm credits the Cherry Creek School District's Career and Technical Education program with sparking her love of photography.
Behm graduated from Eaglecrest High School in the spring, and a passion for pictures was a central feature of her high school career. After her acceptance into the CTE's Comprehensive Commercial Photography program as a junior, Behm went on to show her work in local art galleries, create a senior portrait business and make serious headway as a professional artist.
"I have been blessed to be able to participate in several art shows, including nationals for (the Photographic Society of America), the Student Photographers of Colorado Pickens College competition, and many others," Behm writes on her website. "(I) enjoy photography and being able to manipulate photography to express a specific emotion."
That passion has paid off in more than just creative accomplishments. Earlier this year, Behm received a scholarship award of $46,000 from the Art Institute of Colorado, an honor that came along with the top prize in the statewide Career and Technical Education art competition. Behm won first place for her entire body of work, and also picked up the CTE organization's recognition for "Seeing Life From a Different Perspective."
Behm, who studied with CTE instructor Todd Adams wasn't the only student from the program to earn accolades for her creative approach to photography. Ashley Cook, a Heritage High School student who was also enrolled in the program, won $1,000 in scholarship funds to attend the Hallmark Institute of Photography in Massachusetts. What's more, Cherry Creek High School students enrolled in the CTE photography program including Amanda Adams, Nolan Adams, Courtney Close, Mekena Nelson, Elise Eschholz, Hunter Giolas, Hannah Johnson, Haley Smith and Lauren Niedzinski all won recognition for their work. Heritage High School and CTE student Gary Norvell also picked up a gift certificate from the Arapahoe Community College's Art Show.
All of these students' success stories point to the kind of experiential and real-world education available to students in Cherry Creek's CTE program. In addition to providing students skills that are useful and pertinent to real-world professions, the program also helps students like Behm realize lifelong dreams.
"I have a passion for capturing the beauty that God has created around me through the visual arts," Behm writes on her website. "Ever since I was six years old, I told my mom that I was going to be a famous painter when I grew up."
Being an award-winning photographer is a good first step to realizing that dream.