2011-03-03 / Letters

SF Vo-Tech Aims To Give Students An Edge

To The Editor:

In response to the article that “Vo-tech is Dead in the Water at the Southern School District:” As a fourth-generation builder / remodeler in the area (Greenleaf Homes), I disagree that the current carpentry trades program is dead or in disarray. I do agree that the votech programs would be great if we could have each of our three school systems across Fulton County with a full and robust student turnout and full funding to support these programs, but reality gives us a different scenario. The need to have quality educated and trained students to fill the workforce is imperative and any program that can give our youths an edge over others in the highly competitive employment field is what I believe our current vo-tech programs strive to achieve.

I currently set on the AVTS Advisory Board and in the past almost three years have seen, especially in the carpentry trades program, great strides made in what is offered and what can be accomplished with a competent teacher and the effort to give our students every opportunity available to be successful in the workforce after their schooling.

An example of this is in the teaching of the basic concepts of construction and the importance of safety. The old additive “you have to crawl before you can walk” concept applies here. Students are taught the purpose and intended use of hand tools and how to use them in a safe manner as to not harm themselves or others. They are taught the principal functions of tools and how they can make their future endeavors easier. They are taught to produce quality workmanship that can set them apart from other trades people. Simple projects such as birdboxes, work benches and toolboxes are made to create something that can have a practical function as well as gaining confidence to move toward more challenging projects. These projects evolve into more difficult projects such as the cutting and assembling of stairs, cutting and laying out rafters and applying all this into the building of structures, like storage sheds and hunting blinds. All of these skills are used every day on any job site across the USA.

I am sure many residents aren’t aware that the building trades program has transformed into a carpentry focused itinerary and has partnered with the National Association of Home Builders and the Fulton County Builders Association to enable our students to gain not just a diploma at the end of their education pursuits, but also obtain and hold a certification certificate in carpentry. Less than 2 percent of all vo-tech programs in the country offer this extra competency program. It gives our youths extra knowledge and something else to place on their job application. It is also recognized among NAHB members as part of the continuation of education credits that members take to keep ahead of an everchanging career field.

On a positive note, junior Colby Shaffer from Forbes Road School competed in the carpentry competition at the Skills USA district competition and placed second out of 10 other competitors. The entire vo-tech program for the three school districts sent six students to compete. All students placed in their specific skills programs, placing first, second, or third, receiving medals. This is some good news we should be proud of.

If we had an endless supply of funding, I would want Fulton County to have one location to offer students the opportunity to learn and apply their desired trade training, but as we all know this is a goal that is not quite in the foreseeable future budget. I would encourage all those interested in what the votech programs can offer our children to visit your local school. Don’t be afraid to partner up and help fund our students in attending the Skills competitions or offer scholarships to graduating seniors such as the Fulton County Builders Association has done in the past. The students from these programs will be the future leaders in their various occupations. The seeds we sow today will secure strong growth in the future.

Joseph Hagerty

Warfordsburg

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