TOURS HIGHLIGHT TECHNOLOGY TOWERS
(From the Jacksonville Daily News)
Amy Chisholm would recommend parents learn more about Onslow County Schools' technology towers.
Her daughter, Rebecca, is a junior at Northside High School who has been studying engineering for three years. While Rebecca doesn’t plan to study it after high school, her mom said that the programs are a benefit to students.
“I think it’s a great opportunity that Onslow County is giving these kids with an actual trade whether it’s automotive or construction,” she said.
Chisolm was in a group of parents and area officials touring the advanced construction, advanced automotive/transportation and advanced applied technologies towers at Jacksonville, Southwest and Northside high schools Wednesday morning. City and county officials toured the programs on Monday and Tuesday.
“I think trade classes are kind of stereotyped. I think some people would broaden their views on what’s being taught,” she said. “They’re not just learning the trade, they’re incorporating all their classes,”
The technology towers are stepping stones to a county career center, according to John Shannon, director of Career and Technical Education for Onslow County Schools. The center has been discussed for several years; however, funding and available property for the estimated $9 million project have been hurdles yet to be passed.
Each tower contains several courses dedicated to teaching students about a specific trade. For example, students in the advanced construction tower at JHS learn carpentry, electrical trades, drafting and blue print reading while students studying automotive technology at Southwest learn automotive electronics, how to work on brakes, fuel lines and more.
Students are able to apply to attend classes within the tower and, once accepted, enroll at that tower's school. Students need to provide their own transportation. Applications are available at their school’s guidance office or Onslow County Schools student services.
One of the stops on the tour was the advanced automotive shop at Southwest, where Grant Raynor, 17, a senior at the school, is currently refurbishing his father’s 1977 Jeep as his senior project within the automotive tower.
The car has not run since 1996, he said, but he hopes to have it running by the end of the semester.
Grant said he has been taking automotive classes since his freshman year and plans to go to a technological college after graduation.
His teacher, Glenn Arnette, said that upon finishing the advanced automotive courses, students are qualified to work at a dealership in an entry level position.
At Jacksonville High School, the advanced construction students are taking what they’ve learned and are constructing a building, which will then have plumbing and power.
James Zirnheld, who teaches several classes within the tower including electrical trades, said they have an added benefit: Even if the students decide not to pursue the trade, their skills will allow them to save money over the years by fixing things themselves.
JHS Principal Donna Lynch said that the programs benefit students interested in going into a trade and students looking to advance their education after high school.
“As far as keeping them in school, keeping them interested, I think it works,” she said.
Area businesses interested in partnering with the schools for the programs can call 910-455-2211 to speak to John Shannon and the Career Technical Education staff.