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WCTC programs give students variety of work options

Culinary Arts    autobody autobody 2
 
During this first week in November, more than 1,000 fourth-grade students toured Woodruff Career and Technical Center (WCTC) to view first-hand the school’s construction trades, culinary arts and other program facilities. This is the first year students in elementary grades have toured the facilities, giving them an early start to think about eventual career options. While the nine- and ten-year-olds were most excited by the freshly baked cookies from culinary arts students and Jenga-game blocks crafted for them by construction trade students, WCTC Assistant Principal Dr. Cindy Janovetz said it was important for them to become familiar with the District’s Career and Technical options before they enter middle and high school. “We want you to be excited about the programs here at Woodruff so you can focus in middle school on getting good grades, having good attendance and staying on track to graduate,” Janovetz told the students.
 
As one of the District’s 2014-2015 priorities, career and technical education opportunities are expanding for all high school students. The bulk of these programs operate at WCTC. The programs are offered to high school juniors and seniors who travel to Woodruff from their home high school for a portion of their day. The District’s career and technical education programs are designed to enable students to be qualified to seek employment upon completion as well as to continue their education or apply for a trade apprentice program.
 
 Cellar door WCTC
 WCTC Construction II students built, painted
and installed a new storm cellar door for a
north Peoria food pantry and soup kitchen.
 
 
Michael Brix is a newcomer to WCTC and brings an ambitious vision to the Construction Trades program. As the course instructor, his goals include increasing the amount of hands-on shop experience, weekly trips to construction job sites and companies and eventually forging cooperative working relationships with trade unions and companies to provide a conduit to apprenticeship positions.
 
Students enrolled in the two construction trades classes spend each year progressing through modules covering carpentry, painting, drywall installation, window and door installation, roofing, plumbing and electrical systems. During the first year they learn the basics of each module and are introduced to building codes and safety guidelines. “WCTC’s Construction Trades program is unique in that students earn a Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certificate,” Brix explained. “Very few people out at construction sites are OSHA certified, so that is a real selling point for future employers.”
 
During the program’s second year, students gain more hands-on experience through a variety of projects. Currently, students are building bean-bag game boards and miniature Wheel-of-Fortune wheels for District elementary school carnivals. Often projects are proposed by the students themselves based on their needs at home. For example, when a student showed Brix a photograph of damaged drywall at his home, Brix guided him in the steps required to prepare the damage using scrap drywall left from another project in the shop. Another student is building a set of stairs for an outdoor deck, learning building code requirements for treads, risers and railing heights. “His mother actually visited the workshop because she didn’t believe that her son was actually building the projects he described at home,” said Brix, laughing. The skeptical parent was pleasantly surprised and impressed when Brix showed her the staircase and a cubicle built from 2x4 studs and encased in taped and mudded drywall.
 
Each week, Construction II students go offsite to tour a construction job site or to work on a project. For example, the students recently built a new storm cellar door for a local food pantry and soup kitchen.
 
Autobody repair is another program offered through WCTC, although much of the work is completed at the District Transportation Department bus barn near Richwoods High School. The autobody collision repair industry in Illinois generates nearly $1.5 million annually. According to industry research, the average salary for an entry-level autobody repair shop employee is approximately $27,888 while experienced metal tech journeymen and painters average salaries in the $50,000 range. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment by the autobody repair industry to increase by 13 percent between 2012 to 2022.
 
Peter Brown coordinates the WCTC Autobody Repair. As with the Construction Trades program, students spend two years in the program perfecting technical skills as well as preparing collision damage estimates and customer bills. Brown says recent graduates are employed at numerous Peoria-area autobody repair shops, including his own business.
 

In addition to construction trades, culinary arts and autobody repair, the District’s Career and Technical Education programs include cosmetology, health occupations, electronics and engineering, and metals and manufacturing.  Online registration for 2015-2016 high school courses begins in late January, but with so many diverse programs available, it’s wise that students begin considering their options much earlier.