With the rise of natural gas and pipeline jobs, there has been a bigger push for more career technical education among high school and college students.
Wetzel County Schools has been hard at work all summer building their new technical education center.
This new technical center will allow students from Magnolia, Hundred, Valley, and Paden City high schools to advance their skills in a simulated work environment.
The center had its grand opening on Monday.
“It has taken many people, many hours to make this happen,” said Director Amanda McPherson.
Wetzel County students will now have the opportunity to learn welding skills and much more in the new state of the art technical center.
“I think this will bring a lot of opportunities for our kids,” added Wetzel County Schools Superintendent Edward Toman.
“I can honestly say that this here has been a great experience this coming school year,” said Hundred High School student Marlin Hippensteel.
The project cost a little more than $250,000, but this couldn’t have been done without some help from the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce and West Virginia Northern Community College.
WVNCC donated $65,000, and the Chamber of Commerce donated $50,000.
“We decided the best thing to do was to partner with Wetzel County Schools to create a center where we can jointly work and create a pathway for students to go from secondary programs right into a college program,” explained WVNCC’s Interim President Mike Koon.
Hippensteel is one of the 12 students currently in this year’s program, and he says that this will only better him in this field when it comes time to look for a job.
“I want an education in becoming a certified diesel and gas mechanic and further my education in welding.” McPherson said, “If you look around and see what’s going on in our communities right now, we are in desperate need of welders, and we have students here that can prosper from taking these courses.”
The center will also help with keeping jobs and people here in the Ohio Valley for years to come.
“It’s going to create wonderful opportunities for the students obviously because they’re going to be able to get the skills they need to get the high paying jobs that’s in the area,” Koon added. “For the college what it does is to extend our capabilities to this area in terms of the welding and hopefully some other projects down the road.”
They are currently in their initial welding program, but are hoping to add a new program year after year.
Wetzel County Schools can’t express enough how thankful they are for everyone that helped with out with the project.