Vocational Students form the PCCTC Talk Shop with the 8th Graders of BF and TJ Middle Schools

By: Caitlin Vanlaningham Last Updated: February 25, 2013

Adolescence is an interesting time for young adults. High school is right around the corner, and the question of future plans begins to be thrown in their direction. This is a tough question to answer. Some people don’t find an answer until they’re in their 30s. And in order to navigate this confusing map called life, one needs all the help one can get. So on Monday morning at Benjamin Franklin Middle School, the students from the Porter County Career and Technical Center did just that.

“We’re trying to bring that image of what they can do after high school to what they can do while they’re in high school,” Kelli Ellis, a Student Support Coordinator at the PCCTC, said. “We wanted to make sure that before students go into their freshmen year that they understand that what they do counts. This is little pre-work on our part so that they can be prepared for the two years or career and tech education.”

Students from the PCCTC volunteered their time to come and speak to the middle schoolers of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson Middle Schools about their selected professions. They were separated into eight “clusters” that groups of middle school would rotate between every 20 minutes.

The clusters that the students had to choose from were: Video and Graphic Imaging, CAD/Electronics/CISCO, Health Occupations/EMT/Dental, Criminal Investigation and Criminal Justice, Modern Machining and Welding, Mechanical and Construction Technology, Education/Culinary Arts/Landscape Design, and Cosmetology and Business.

Jordan Tikalsky, a Construction Technology student from the PCCTC and VHS junior told me what sort of things that each group talks about.

“We’re going to talk about the basics of what we do like the stuff that goes in the tool belt, and what we’ve done to a house that we’re renovating on Campbell about a mile and a half from Valparaiso High School,”Tikalsky said. “This is important to talk about because this lets the kids know that there is something for them if they decide that college isn’t where they want to go. And it’s important because if you need to fix something then you know how.”

Those would be useful skills to have. Other PCCTC students spoke of their chosen career path and why it’s useful and important. One spoke of how it helped her hone in on exactly what type of education job she wanted to have, another spoke of how little things make a difference like a good handshake, and another talked about how in the criminal justice field you get to do and see things that many people don’t ever get to take part in. All of these things cannot be taught in books. Experience and hands on learning is the only way one can learn certain things. This was the point that many of the PCCTC students touched on during their time speaking to the middle school students. They were grateful to have the opportunity to learn this way and apply it in real-world settings early on.

“The students find out about college opportunities, what the vocational students do, and how it’s going to benefit them,”BF Counselor Rebekah Cowan (who helped coordinate the event along with Tammy Hoffer of TJ) said. “It’s a really good program.”

It is a good program. I can attest to this because I have worked with some of the students at the PCCTC and I have seen what they can do at such a young age. It is impressive to watch their skills at work and it gives me great confidence that they are going to be very ready for whatever the future holds for them.

{valpo}To see more photos from the Class Fair, click here!{/valpo}

{portage}To see more photos from the Class Fair, click here!{/portage}