Career Center skills on display

A brick outdoor island and an Ohio State University fire ring were among the items up for bid at the seventh annual Washington County Career Center Open House on Thursday evening.

Handmade items from the school’s masonry, carpentry and welding programs were on display at the open house as well as up for sale at the live auction, with all proceeds going back into the career center’s programs.

The evening highlighted 60 vendors, from landscapers to health professionals, alongside the displayed craftsmanship of student projects, all with the goal of making the community aware of what the Washington County Career Center has to offer.

“We like the community to get involved so they can see where their tax money goes to work, and this really shows them that these kids are not just going to school for something to do, they are coming here so they can immediately be put into lifelong careers,” said Penny Jenkins, events coordinator for WCCC. “It’s also for the parents, so they can see what opportunities their kids can have, whether that be finding a career out of here or taking their skills to college.”

The annual event typically brings in more than 1,000 people for the three hour-long open house and live auction toward the end of the evening.

From the Masonry program, which currently holds 14 students, came a set of brick steps, an outdoor concrete fire pit, an outdoor brick BBQ grill, two sets of stone, lit pillars for the ends of driveways and an outdoor island.

Senior masonry students Jacob Schilling and Alex Miller completed the outdoor island as their senior project, and said they were excited to see how much it would auction off for.

“Masonry is a part of everything; hospitals, schools, and it lasts forever,” Miller said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but it can also make a lot of money.”

The duo built the island in about a week and a half, with an initial sale estimate of $1,300.

“We’re happy with how it turned out, and we hope it will go for at least what we estimated, or more,” Schilling said.

Masonry instructor Casey Strahler said he really would like to get more people into the program, because though it is a lot of tough labor, students tend to get in and get building and really enjoy making products.

“I let the students pick whatever they want to make, so the design and all the work is done by them,” Strahler said.

Ohio State fans signed up to bid on the fire pit, built by the entire welding program of about 15 students, which featured a full metal fire ring with “Ohio State Buckeyes” etched in large letters around it.

“It was a combined effort for the whole class, and I think it’s going to do very well,” said Keelan McLeish, the welding program instructor. “This is from a program that works, where the students are walking out into lifelong careers.”

In carpentry, with 30 total students, a wooden picnic table and wooden bench made by junior students went for sale at the auction, items that program instructor Ken Gebhart said students build a lot of because of the high demand for them in the community.

Open House attendees could also walk through the finished modular home that students build to be auctioned off every June, complete with interior finishing by the carpentry seniors, who build everything from kitchen cabinets to chests of drawers.

Other auction items included spa packages from the high school and adult Cosmetology schools, a home safety package from the Electricity program and an outdoor fit pit kit from the Landscape Construction & Turf Management program.

“To have something that you made put into this auction is very special for the students, because if you make something not up to standard, it will not cut it,” Jenkins said.

New to this year’s auction was the addition of a country store, where items donated from other technical programs at the school and from vendors were available to bid on chances to win, from Dragon recording software to senior portrait packages.

This year, WCCC also charged a vendor’s fee of $30 or $50, depending on table size, with all money collected going toward the school’s Cultural and Benevolent Fund, which is used for student financial needs and programs.