Students walking area high school halls today may become a business person, accountant, lawyer or other profession that requires college study. Others may develop athletic talents and become a professional athlete, coach or administrator, which may also require college study.
Still others may become electricians, welders, carpenters, automotive technicians, plumbers or any of the many careers where students get their training in high school technical centers. These students learn skills that enable them to begin full-time work after graduation with good salaries and little or no college debt.
On Sept. 13, The Sun will begin its annual Technical Center Student of the Week series, to be published in each Friday's newspaper for 29 weeks during the school year. Now in its third year, the series will highlight students who are learning workskills to fill the void in Kentucky's trade skills areas. You will find the students' backgrounds, interests, skills and life dreams are as diverse as the fields they have chosen.
The Technical Center Student of the Week series is sponsored by the Associated General Contractors of Western Kentucky and organized by its workforce coordinator, Joel Crider. Teachers at seven area technical centers send Crider their student nominees' application and photo.
All 29 Technical Center Students of the Week will be recognized at a banquet, to be held near the end of the school year, and one overall Student of the Year will be chosen.
"Our main intention (with the weekly honor) was to recognize and highlight the outstanding regional tech center students who possess the necessary skills and individual qualities to make a successful career in the local construction industry," said Chris Nelson, executive vice president of AGC of Western Kentucky. "Many of these tech students never get recognized. We recognize the importance of these students and the importance of these programs regionally."
Students named to the weekly honor come from Paducah Area Technical Center, Ballard County Career and Technical Center, Caldwell Regional Career Center, Four Rivers Career Academy in Fulton County, Marshall County Technical Center, Mayfield-Graves County Area Technology Center, Murray-Calloway County Area Technology Center.
Nelson said the area technical centers are adding programs, including electrical programs at Marshall County and Murray-Calloway County.
"I think the school systems are seeing the value in (technical programs)," he said. "We're seeing more programs being added, and we'll see that with Paducah's Innovation Hub. They're talking about possibly adding a diesel mechanical program that will help the needs of the regional workforce like the barge industry and the train industry."