Monday was Crawford County's biggest signing day ever with 30 students inking letters of intent — but not for sports. The soon-to-be graduates from Crawford County Career and Technical Center's various trades programs formally signed on with employers.
The school's inaugural signing day ceremony Monday was the brainchild of Bonnie Stein, who coordinates the school's cooperative education program.
Cooperative education combines school-based education with practical work experience, giving school credit for the job experience and paying the students at the same time. Senior year students are in the work force at jobs based on their trades' career path.
"Students get recognized at the high schools for scholarships and going on to play sports, why don't we honor the students going on in the work force full time?" Stein said following the ceremonies. "These 30 all were offered full-time work. We get calls all the time 'Do you have a student prepared to go into the work force?'"
About 25 of the 30 seniors already have had real career work experience through the CCCTC's cooperative education program, Stein said. Sophomore and junior students at the CCCTC attend a half-day while the other half is spent at their home high school.
Senior-year students who qualify for cooperative education attend their home high school a half-day, but work at an employer in their chosen vocation the other half.
Ryan DeArment, vice president sales and marketing of Channellock Inc., the Meadville-based hand tool company, lauded the students and their parents for choosing a trades career.
With the average age of tradespeople 56, thus nearing retirement, there will be a growing demand for skilled workers, DeArment said. That's because the Millennial generation — those born between 1981 and 1996 — are entering their prime spending years for homes and other big-ticket items. Plus, Millennial generation is larger than the Baby Boomer generation, which is entering retirement.
"The foundation of any great civilization is the skilled craftsman who built its infrastructure," said DeArment. "Today we want to celebrate your commitment to carry on the knowledge and traditions of your trade. Where would we be with teachers, but no schools; with engineers, but no factories; with doctors, but no hospitals? Tradespeople make the world go 'round."
Kevin Sprong, director of the CCCTC, said the school was excited to have a large turnout for the inaugural event — especially from area employers, including ones who didn't have students signing but just wanted to be part of signing day.
"Without all of you, these students wouldn't be here signing into their employment or apprenticeships," Sprong said.
Parents, family and friends of the students also played an important role, Sprong said. "Your love, support and guidance plays a huge role in these students success," he said.
Both students and the employers thought the idea of a signing event was terrific.
"It's a really eye-opening experience to see everybody and these companies come together at once," James Dailyde of Hartstown, who has studied diesel mechanics.
He's signed on as a school bus diesel mechanic with Anderson Coach & Travel Co. where he's worked his senior year through the cooperative education program
Dalton Fry of Centerville has signed on with Leech Industries of Meadville and is heading into a career in tooling and machining. He's worked at Leech through the cooperative education program.
"He was awesome, he was great," said Scott Wheelock, who has been Fry's supervisor at Leech. "We have high hopes for him as he's worked out well."
The 30 CCCTC students and their prospective employers are:
• Nicalette Fuller and Keegan Gaub, Acutec Precision Aerospace
• James Dailyde, Anderson Coach & Travel Co.
• Matt Linz, Area Tool & Manufacturing
• Nicolas Broad and Brandon Richter (apprenticeships), Arrow Electric Inc.
• Tyler Shearer, C & J Industries
• Olivia Minor, Cathy's Beauty Salon
• Zack Locke, Centerline Collision
• Logan Bill (apprenticeship) Council of Carpenters
• Ethan Wright (apprenticeship) Cox & Kanyuck Electric
• Frank Leszek, Dillaman Auto Body
• Ty Turner, Eldred Collision
• Joshua Caylor, Generant Co.
• Jordon Hollabaugh, Griffin Motors
• Tom Adams, LandPro Equipment
• Wesley Price, Leech Carbide
• Dalton Fry, Leech Industries
• Logan Cobb and Matthew Lucas, LNS ChipBLASTER
• Tanner Carson, Hunter Groger, Charlie Johnson and Alex Wellmon, (apprenticeships) R.E. Johnson Electric
• Jesse Parker, Roser Technologies Inc.
• Shayla Peterson, Erishea Reese and Josie Shartle, SmartStyle Hair Salon
• Ben Rockwell, Starn Tool & Manufacturing
• Brody Price, Wesbury United Methodist Retirement Community
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.