County sophomores tour Career Center

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times A student in the Hands On Tour for Sophomores held Tuesday at the Washington County Career Center tries out the virtual reality equipment in the center’s program for graphic design and video production.

By Michael Kelly

The Marietta Times

In the corner of the auto collision repair classroom, visiting sophomores stood in line holding colored metal panels, waiting their turn to try the airbrushing equipment. On the floor of the shop, center stage was occupied by an elaborately decorated quarter-mile dragster. In a corner, a recently repaired, shiny red Corvette stood waiting to be picked up by its owner.

On Tuesday, the Washington County Career Center held another Hands On Tour for Sophomores, allowing students from Belpre, Marietta and Waterford high schools to get a look at what the center offers.

One of the students in line was Kayleigh Davis, a 16-year-old attending Marietta High School. It’s the art in auto body repair that appeals to her, she said.

“I’m really interested in this,” she said. “I like the artistic side of it, I do drawing and painting.”

Davis said her studies at MHS include art, and the sophomore tour of the career center helped her make up her mind about her next step in school.

“After seeing what this actually is, I am definitely going to take this course,” she said.

The sophomores got first hand experience, under the guidance of instructor Gary Ruble and his students, in mixing paint, spraying paint, clear-coating and air-brushing.

In another shop in the sprawling education complex, sophomores were learning the basics of mixing mortar, using a float to make a smooth and level sand base and buttering bricks to build a convex wall.

Brianna Greene, 16, another Marietta High School student, said masonry is not a trade usually associated with women.

“It’s not your typical female scene, but it’s good money,” she said. “I like hands-on work, I like building things and I’ve been thinking about this for a while.”

She’s done household repairs and helped her uncle do some roofing.

“I love being outside, and I hate being indoors,” she said.

Penny Jenkins, the career center’s marketing and events coordinator, said demand is high for non-traditional skilled trades and professionals. Female welders, she said, tend to be able to do work requiring finesse that comes with having smaller hands, and men in nursing have extra value because they generally are able to lift heavy weights easier than women can.

Jenkins said the hands-on tour for sophomores is a regular event at the center, and on Tuesday about 330 students from the three Washington County schools came through for much of the day, choosing three of the center’s 15 programs to tour and spending about an hour with each. Out of the county’s six school districts, she said, the center expects to enroll about 250 students who are sophomores now and will be juniors in the fall.

More than two dozen students stood in small groups at the sports medicine course demonstration, trying out the equipment and talking to students already in the course.

Abbey LaFatch, a 16-year-old from Belpre High School also taking courses from Washington State Community College, said she’s an athlete considering a career in healing.

“I love sports, and I love helping people,” she said. “And I’d like to work for a team.”

Jenkins said part of the career center’s success is that it offers students many options other than universities.

“College isn’t for everyone, and people are finding that a college degree is not always in high demand,” she said. The sophomores are often surprised by the range of courses the center offers, she said.

The hands-on tour was mandatory for the sophomores, as a Facebook posting from Marietta High School explained. “We fully understand many students already have interest and direction, but we cannot tell you how many times additional exposure has allowed them to have a broader perspective on possibilities and many have even changed their mind,” the post said.

“It’s a chance to find a job you like,” Jenkins said. “And even if you don’t make a career of it, you have skills that you keep for life.”

At a glance

Washington County Career Center Hands On Tour for Sophomores

¯ Schools: Marietta, Belpre and Waterford high schools.

¯ Number of sophomores: About 330.

¯ Technical programs: 15.

¯ Number toured by each student: 3

¯ What’s for lunch: pizza.