SPARTA, NJ – Sussex County Vocational Technical High School opened its doors for two separate events on Thursday, Jan. 24, inviting middle school students and their families to investigate what it has to offer.
According to Superintendent Gary Modla, about 150 eighth grade students attended the “Wow Factor” event during the day, where they had the chance to visit the various shops and spend time with the junior and senior students.
“I think it’s important that they can speak to the students who have been here longer, to get a real feel for our programs,” he said.
“Tonight, students as well as their families are welcome to visit the displays at the rear of the auditorium, tour the shops, and decide together whether this is the school for them,” said Modla.
At the Skills USA display at McNiece Auditorium, Mia Branham and Matthew Corsello told The Alternative Press about their recent trip to Washington, DC.
"It was a great experience. We spoke to one of Scott Garrett's aides, we had to tell him of the positive effects of Skills USA. We toured the monuments, the government buildings and the Capital. We attended the Leadership Training, given by Skills USA faculty, and met with representatives of Snap-On, Toyota and Honda. It gave us an overview of how companies work."
After a brief orientation in the auditorium, visitors split up into groups, led by faculty, according to interest. In each shop, current students voiced their support of the school.
Stephen Schneider spoke to those interested in Culinary. "Our teachers have been executive chefs and bakers; they’ve been in high end restaurants. We’re learning from what they have learned in the industry.”
His teacher, Chef Gary Scully, explained that the kids all work very hard. They supply the hospitality for twenty functions per year after school. This year, a group of students went to Chicago to compete in a national cook-off. He stressed that the students can take exams and earn college credit for what they know. "Not only cooking, but kids learn math and science. Recipe conversion can be quite complex.”
Engineering student Tyler Hepp spoke about his trade. "Mr. Land is a great instructor. He teaches us not only about engineering, but about how to lead a team and work well with others.”
Kevin Bishop said, “It gives you a better understanding about math and physics.”
Justin Hermann said, “It opens up skills we wouldn’t be utilizing in a normal school. It’s a great experience.”
Hepp continued, “The Human Submarine program opens up doors. One of our past students applied to NJIT Honors College, he was offered a lot of scholarship money, and he got his acceptance letter during the interview.”
Reggie Nazaire spoke highly of his experience in the Automotive and Diesel program. “There’s no comparison between here and a regular high school. It’s like you’re learning two things instead of one. You leave with a lot more than you came with.
Kim Anderson said the Cinematography program is “the first stop to Hollywood."
Joe Taylor said, “It’s a professional atmosphere with great equipment, a great instructor who’s been working in the field and knows the industry.”
Trevor Youngblood spoke about the Computer Aided Drafting and Design program. “We deal with architecture and drafting, including electrical plumbing, machine parts, tools and buildings. Architecture is a renaissance trade, it involves understanding people, environment, economics, ergonomics, everything.”
Tim Mitchell said, “We can design pretty much anything, cars, planes, boats, buildings.”
Youngblood continued, “We have new stuff every three years, the computers are top notch. We get to go to NJIT to see how college students work. Our teacher is an architect in three states, who has done commercial and residential work. He used to be one of our advisors. Each year we get counseled on how to dress, speak, act, and we get experience with interviewing.”
Students in the HVAC trade all had a very positive outlook on their future. "I am going into a trade where people will pay to have me help out during cold or hot weather. I will earn my EPA Certification and take exams which will allow me to get an entry level position right here in the county,” said Vincent Boyer.
“It’s a fun shop, we learn about air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration. We study electrical diagrams, heating is 80% electrical,” said Patrick Gallagher.
Delaney Timchak enjoys being a part of the Agricultural trade. "This trade prepares you for everything, farming, landscape and design, or being a florist. During the holidays we create a lot of flower arrangements. Juniors and seniors go out into the fields and work with the equipment."
"There is a lot of science, mostly biology and chemistry (in agriculture),” said Mike Quartucci. "We learn about soil, nutrients, and growing conditions."
Computer and IT is another shop. Nick Coombs said, "Freshmen and Sophomores learn about the software. Juniors and Seniors learn networking, hardware and security."
Visitor Esther Vorrius and her son James were visiting from Hopatcong. “It’s been great so far, my son really wants to go here. It offers careers in tech that he’s interested in, not just the academics.”
Brandon Traut, from Vernon, was also positive. “I have friends that go here, they were teaching me how to weld, my friend’s father was also showing us.”
Traut’s sister already attends the school and is studying Commercial Art.
Ogdensburg School Board President Ricardo Rojas, himself a graduate from Vo-Tech, was visiting with his son, Hunter. He said, “It was very impressive to see how far the school has come, it has certainly changed since I attended here. I thought the business shop was very interesting. I was very impressed with the students. What they were learning from the class, they can take with them, whether they go on to college or to work.”
At the end of the evening, attendees were invited to the cafeteria to sample the delicious work of the culinary trade. As usual, the bakery was open for business, and plenty of faculty and administrators were on hand for questions.
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