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FHS CTE's Alumni Showcase 23-24

Flagstaff High School’s

Career Technical Education

Alumni Showcase 23-24



A message from Mr. Safranek, Director of College & Career Development:

Every February, schools, districts, government institutions, politicians, business and industry organizations, and others across our country observe Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month. During this time of celebration and advocacy, it is important to shed light on those people and programs that make CTE such a valuable part of Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD), as well as to recognize that our local efforts are only a portion of a vital nationwide educational tapestry dedicated to developing the next generation of highly skilled workers, creators, designers, technologists, healthcare providers, business leaders, educators, and more.

FUSD, in partnership with the Coconino Association for Vocations, Industry, & Technology (CAVIAT) offers 27 industry credential-bearing programs available to high schoolers. Students learn from instructors who are experts in their fields – many with years of direct industry experience-who also incorporate the AZ Professional Skills Standards into their curriculum. FUSD is privileged to have such dedicated professionals leading these programs, and it is a group that includes multiple Coconino County Teacher of the Year winners and candidates.

Career awareness and exploration efforts are being built in FUSD middle and elementary schools as well, in part utilizing the AZ Career Literacy Standards, so that students and families can have an even clearer, more relevant, and informed educational journey from the time they enter 6th grade through high school graduation.

For more information, visit the FUSD College & Career Development webpage, and/or contact the department using the information provided on that web page.

CTE Videos:


                              Woods Shop                                                                Welding Shop                                                          Sports Medicine

                              Photography                                                              Graphic Design                                                          Fashion Design

             Early Childhood Development                                                     Culinary                                                              Computer Science

                       Business/Yearbook                                                                Autos

Name: Abigail Austin
Profession:NAU Student

Culinary Arts, Patti Pastor


I have always loved baking and cooking for as long as I can remember. Coming into high school, I was so excited to be a part of the culinary program, and I’m so thankful that I had an amazing teacher to help me further my culinary understanding. I loved being in culinary class with Pastor; she helped me with so many techniques and recipes and I still use what she taught me today. Even though I am currently a History major at NAU, I get orders from family and friends to make desserts for special events which I couldn’t have done without the skills Pastor has taught me. Being in this program has also taught good communication skills, leadership, and has given me confidence in baking/cooking, but also in everyday life. So, what I learned in the culinary program is still valuable even though I’m not actively studying Culinary Arts in college. I’m very grateful that I was in this wonderful program with a very wonderful teacher, and I value the things I have learned throughout my high school career in Culinary Arts.  

Name: Will Giannola
Profession: Engineer/Firefighter

Culinary Arts, Welding, Woods

Hello, I'm Will Giannola, a Flagstaff native and proud alumnus of Flagstaff High School, where I thrived as an all-state wrestler from 2005 to 2009. After graduating in 2009, my career path became clear, leading me to become an Engineer/Firefighter with the Flagstaff Fire Department. Post high school, I pursued my passion by enrolling at Coconino Community College. During summer breaks, I dedicated my time to the "Bear Jaw Fire and Fuels Crew," a Wildland firefighting team that not only provided hands-on experience but also supported my education financially. In 2012, I earned my associate degree in fire science. The journey into firefighting officially began in 2014 when I joined Highlands Fire District full-time. In 2017, I tested for the Flagstaff Fire Department, earning a position that eventually led to my promotion to Engineer in 2021. Beyond my firefighting duties, I actively contribute to the community through my involvement in the House of Jacks, a program focused on recruiting and mentoring the next generation of firefighters. Additionally, I play a role in our charity program, aiming to have a positive impact. Integrity, strong values, morals, honesty, and humility are the cornerstones of my success in the fire services. Many of these traits were cultivated during my high school years. I learned valuable skills through CTE programs like, welding, woods, and culinary classes. These skills taught me basic fundamentals that I could bring into the fire service. Wrestling, a sport that molded me mentally and physically, has been a significant influence in preparing me for the challenges of firefighting. On reflection, I can genuinely say that I have the best job in the world. The opportunity to serve and protect the community is not just a duty but a privilege that I cherish each day.

Name: Courtney Prajapati
Profession: FHS Culinary Student

Culinary Arts

I participated in several culinary competitions during my high school years at FHS and the culinary arts program gave me many opportunities to use my technical and professional skills. As a national Pro-Start competitor, I saw the best of CTE in action and was able to interact with sponsors and judges nationwide. As a result of competing in C-CAP my senior year, I received a scholarship to attend Scottsdale Community College. This was a great experience and after attending Scottsdale Community College for their culinary program and working in some of the top hotels on the West Coast, I returned to FHS to teach Culinary Arts. I am in my 2nd year of teaching and loving being a part of the competition and CTE again.

Name: Selma Grace Marsitto
Profession/Education: Northern Arizona University - B.S. in Strategic Communication with a double emphasis in Advertising & Public Relations and a minor in Communication Studies 

Culinary Arts, Patti Pastor

I started High School with every intention of going into HRM. I took 3 consecutive years of the culinary program, earned my Food Handlers and Restaurant Manager’s cards, and toured multiple culinary schools. In my senior year, however, I decided on taking another path and started looking at general Universities for a Bachelor’s degree. Once I started applying for college and was offered the Lumberjack Scholarship at Northern Arizona University, I could not pass it up. I started my collegiate career in 2020 during COVID, so my entire first year was online. During that time, I was a declared Psychology major, but through assistance from my gateway advisor, decided to switch over to Strategic Communication with an emphasis in Advertising. During my 2nd year (once we were finally in person), there was a guest speaker that came into one of my classes that had the same major as I did, except she was also double emphasizing AND had a minor. Discovering this was a possibility, I was inspired to add a Public Relations emphasis to my degree, and later on a Communication Studies minor as well. During this time, I also got involved with NAU’s Northern Arizona Merchandising Association. This was influential in helping me meet people and make friends, offering opportunities to building my resume and finally feeling a sense of community on campus. I would recommend joining a club for anyone beginning their college career. When I was in my 3rd year, I had a friend tell me she was going to study abroad. After hearing about this, I did some research, talked with my advisor and realized that it was a possibility for me as well. I found a program in Leeds, England, UK that would still be covered by my scholarship, so I applied and, in the whirlwind of just a couple of months, was off spending the Spring semester of 2023 abroad. This was by far the best decision of my college career. I have got to travel to about 10 countries and over 30 cities, expand my worldview tremendously, experience new cultures and gain a deeper understanding of my place in the world. I am now back in the states and in the last semester of my 4th year, preparing for graduation in May. Through my time at NAU I have formed a passion for Communication Studies and plan to start a Master’s program pursuing a graduate degree in this. My time in the Culinary Arts program in High School taught me the importance of communication in an organizational setting, as well as learning to work as a team and accept the offered perspectives, advice, criticisms and critiques from others. These skills have been invaluable to me as an individual as I have navigated college and will continue to serve me well in my future endeavors and career.

Name: Logan Smithson
Profession: Senior bachelor’s student at Paul Smith College & Four Diamond Resort Spa Receptionist

Culinary Arts, Patti Pastor

My name is Logan Smithson, I am currently studying Hotel Resort and Tourism Management at Paul Smith College in New York. My CTE program was in Culinary Arts. I participated in culinary in high school for three years and competed in C-CAP. I was awarded a full-ride scholarship to Paul Smith College in 2020. Throughout my culinary studies, I was able to develop many technical and career skills. Working in a kitchen requires many moving parts and communication is one of the most important lessons. These experiences were able to give me an advantage in the transition from high school to college and real life. With the skills learned, I was able to realize that I wanted to be part of the hospitality community. I currently work in a Four Diamond Resort as a receptionist. As I continue to work, I aspire to further my knowledge of tourism and travel. I will be receiving my Bachelors and a Minor in Entrepreneurial Business. With this, I may be able to start my own travel agency that incorporates culinary and hospitality knowledge. I am so grateful for how my experiences and choices I’ve made in high school have led me to where I am today. I am excited about seeing what the future brings me. 

Name: Alanna Calandra
Profession: Server at Pinewood County Club & own my own pet sitting business

Culinary Arts, Patti Pastor

Grew up in Camp Verde Az, and moved to Munds Park, Az and went to high school in Flagstaff, Az. My freshman year, I decided to take culinary arts because it seemed fun and, like most of us, I love food. While taking these classes through my high school years, I realized how many opportunities and doors would be opened from taking these courses. During this time, I got my first job at Little America, where I started off as a busser and later ended up making my way up to a server after multiple other positions. This job helped me get out of my shell and become a social person. This program as well as my job taught me I love the art of the hospitality industry, which led me to where I am today with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. 

Name: Beatrice Heirigs
Profession/Education: Student at the Culinary Institute of New York
Culinary Arts

I am 18 years old from Flagstaff, Arizona. I completed my CTE program at Flagstaff High School. I competed in culinary competitions through the Careers through Culinary Arts program during my junior year and senior year of high school to earn scholarships for college. Whilst being in the culinary program at FHS I fostered my passion for cooking and learned many techniques. Currently, I am living in New York City pursuing my passion for cooking at The Culinary Institute of New York at Monroe College. I am also part of the American Culinary Federation, competing in individual competitions as well as team competitions. My school has won over a thousand medals, and multiple national championships. Here in the City, there are so many opportunities, including staging, interning, and getting jobs at some of the best restaurants in the world. I have had so many incredible opportunities in the last 6 months by just being involved with the culinary program at Monroe College, including volunteering at the Food Education Fund gala that raised tens of thousands of dollars for high school culinary students. My goals in the next 5 years are to work my way through the chain of command at a Michelin-star restaurant as well as opening pop-ups with fellow chefs. I hope to inspire other young women to believe in themselves, that they can do anything they set their mind to.

Name: JayLissa Mockta
Profession: Assistant Coordinator

Early Childhood Education, Ms. Gabaldon and Culinary Arts

I graduated from Flagstaff High School in 2012 and went to school at The University of Arizona, graduating in 2016 with my Bachelor's of Education. I obtained my CDA, and AAS in Early Childhood Education at Central Arizona College. I also have my Elementary Education certification for PreK-12. Currently, I am working on my Master’s in Education at NAU. After I graduated from college, I moved back home to Flagstaff and worked in an Early Childhood Education Program as a teacher's aide, a teacher, Family Advocate, and a Classroom Support Specialist. In 2021, I came to work for FUSD in the Native American Education Support Program as an Interventionist serving elementary students. I am currently working as the FACTS Assistant Coordinator.

Name: Sydney Courtright
Profession: College student

Culinary Arts, Mrs. Prajapati

I joined the FHS Culinary Arts Program as a sophomore after transferring from Corona Del Sol. Through sophomore year, I built a love for culinary arts and continued onto Culinary 2 for junior year and finished off as a senior in the baking and pastry class. I learned how to manage a kitchen using communication skills, teamwork, organization, time management, and kitchen language. I also learned different processes for baking bread, safety protocols in the kitchen and I earned my food handlers card and SERV Safe food certification (industry certifications) which enabled me to get a job with the food service industry at a higher level. I am now a college freshman attending school in Jacksonville, Florida studying marine biology and education. 

Name: Makayla Chavez
Profession/Education: College Student

Sports Medicine, Donte Delia

Going through my years of grade school, I always knew that I wanted to be in the medical field. Nursing usually seemed to call my name.  But, the dream came to a sudden halt as a freshman. I suddenly felt an intense amount of anxiety and a lack of drive for my future. I felt overwhelmed by the present. A whole new school, no friends, all mixed in with struggles in my personal life. I grew to dread going to school. This lasted almost my entire freshman year. That was until the last month or so. I had the honor of being the last class to get the CTE rotation. My last rotation was “Introduction to Sports Medicine”. This class quite literally changed my high school experience for the better. I learned about the Sports Medicine classes offered for the students and this was the first elective I put on my list for next year. When my schedule came out, I saw Sports Medicine on the list and grinned from ear to ear. The environment of this class was unlike any other. I made friends immediately with all the partner work we did. Suddenly, my drive was back. I fell back in love with health care and immediately knew this is what my future has in store for me. Soon after, I was accepted into the internship with Donte, and suddenly I looked forward to going to school. I would stay after school nearly every day to help anyway I could and school became my second home. I got the honor of being her intern for 2 years, and am happy to say I’m now working on my pre-reqs for the nursing program. The CTE program changed my life for the better and I will never be able to express my gratitude for this program. 

Name: Max Barajas
Profession: Manager Meat Department at Sprouts

Culinary Arts, Patti Pastor

The culinary experience from high school classes and competition helped shape me into what I am now through teaching me tools I continue to use on nearly a day-to-day basis. I learned patience with my peers, how to work with my hands, and creativity to do anything I wanted to. Competition only enhanced these great skills. It put pressure on me to strive to do my best, which stayed with me as I went on to work in many restaurants. I used my learned skills to quickly move up the ranks in any kitchen I went to. I eventually went on to manage a few kitchens, which was an amazing challenge that I will never forget. I still have a drive to create beautiful and flavorful dishes at home, which my family of four loves to eat. I still have the fire for culinary arts in me and think about maybe opening my own restaurant and running things my way.

Currently, I run a meat department in a Sprouts Farmers Market. I work with knives every day, whether I'm prepping meals, butchering meat or seafood. As the manager, I take pride in my meat cuts and teach coworkers how to do the same for the customers we take care of each and every day. Customer service is definitely trying at times, but making something special for the customer's needs is all worth it, just like creating beautiful and delicious dishes for customers at a restaurant. I take my culinary prowess and use it to let customers know how to prepare wonderful meals at home, whether it's cooking roasts, steaks, chicken, or fish. My customers love coming to me to ask about different techniques to make their meals even better. 

I am so glad I was able to be a part of the culinary arts program offered at Flagstaff High School and am grateful to have had such a great mentor and teacher who pushed me to strive for greatness. Patti Pastor and the C-CAP program helped mold me into who I am today; I wouldn't have done it any other way if given another chance.

Name: Bailee Jamison
Profession: Student at Adams State University

Sports Medicine, Donte Delia

Throughout my school years, I struggled to see how sports and education could merge into a career path, but I was determined to keep my passion for the game alive. As a freshman, I took the CTE program but was not able to make it to Donte's Introduction to Sports Medicine class due to COVID. I had always heard it was a good program, but never got the opportunity to see it for myself. Once my sophomore year came around, and I had sports med on my schedule, I was beyond curious to see what the hype was all about. Shortly, I realized it was a whole new experience.  It made my high school years so much better. The environment and people made this experience feel like I had a family. This also led me, with the help of a spontaneous idea from a friend, to interview for her Sports Medicine Internship during our junior and senior years. This was the absolute best choice I could have made for myself. I had finally found a path to go down for my future. It turned out to be a remarkable opportunity, opening doors I never knew existed between sports and education. Devoting countless hours before, during, after school and weekends, and under Donte's mentorship, I immersed myself in learning about Athletic Training, finding inspiration in her knowledge and guidance. For the first time, I had clarity about my future academic pursuits and the determination to achieve them. Currently majoring in Kinesiology at Adams State University, I look forward to continuing my studies next year at Colorado Mesa University in pursuit of a Master of Science in Athletic Training. None of this would have been possible without the unwavering support of Donte and the life-changing experience of this internship. It's a journey that is deeply personal to me, and one that I will carry with me as I strive to make a difference in the lives of others who share my love for sports. My gratitude for this program and Donte cannot be put into words.