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Grant County does a lot of things right and one of the most impressive ones that I’ve seen lately is the Career and Technical Center at Grant County High School.
Last week, the CTC at GCHS was awarded a PEAK (Public Education Achieves in Kentucky) award.
The CTC opened in 2011 and the number of students taking classes there has grown from 650 to 811 in more than 10 areas of study. Last fall, they also offered classes to the community in things such as welding, ceramics, etc.
I knew what the CTC was in the cerebral sense, but it came to life for me as I toured the building with members of the Kentucky School Boards Association.
We met students who were so enthusiastic about their classes.
Jon Sanders, associate principal who is responsible for the CTC, asked a couple of the students to share their experiences, but several other students waited around and asked for the opportunity to talk about their classes without being prompted.
The students told of job shadowing and then being hired on as a co-op student and then being offered a job while the business helps them pay for college.
One young man talked about his career path and how after taking a class in the CTC, he decided to refine his career path and was now thinking of going into forensics. He said he wished he would have had the opportunity to spend all four of his high school years taking classes in the CTC.
For lunch, students in the culinary arts program prepared salad, pork loin and baked potatoes. For dessert, they served one of the best carrot cakes I’ve probably ever eaten and it was certainly restaurant quality.
We met a young lady who won a welding competition by taking silverware and turning it into a metal rooster. The piece was cool. She later served our lunch because she was also taking culinary classes.
When I asked her what made her enter a welding competition. Her eyes lit up as she explained that she had always loved working on cars so she signed up for the welding class and in her words “fell in love with welding.” Her future plans are to attend Gateway and get an associate’s degree in welding, a skill, which she should have no problem finding a job.
Students taking blood pressure and working on computers. Other students were interacting with adults with ease and grace beyond their 16, 17 and 18 years.
It’s hard at that age to know what you want to do with your life, but these students had a direction, a passion and a desire to do something with themselves and that’s what high school should be. The foundation of a good education will always be a student’s ability to master reading, writing and arithmetic, but exploring options to find out what you’re good at and what you want to spend your working life doing are also important at this stage.
The Grant County School District deserves recognition for their foresight to build a career and technical center in our community. It is definitely an asset and gives our children a leg up in competing for good paying jobs and getting ahead after high school.
Equally impressive is the good news that the Williamstown School District also received last week, which gave them a reason to celebrate.
Williamstown schools were recognized as one of the top 20 high schools in Kentucky, which was the second year in a row they received this recognition.
U.S. News has listed WHS as the 11th best high school for 2013, up from18th in last year’s ranking.
The publication evaluated more than 21,000 public high schools in 49 states and the District of Columbia.
This marks the second consecutive year that Williamstown has received a silver medal and the third time that Williamstown has been recognized by U.S. News. They received a bronze medal a couple of years ago.
This award also means that the students of the Williamstown School District are receiving a quality education, which will help them compete for better jobs and a better future.
Both of these honors were not just the work of a mere handful of individuals, but really the work of a community composed of the taxpayers, the elected officials, the teachers, the students themselves and anyone else who had a hand in providing them a positive learning environment.
Grant County should be proud of our schools and our students. There are a lot of good things that happen inside those walls everyday.
(Jamie Baker-Nantz is editor of the Grant County News. She can be reached at 859-824-3343 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)