Congressman tours Hanover County trades school

Posted on Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 10:16 am

Sept. 5, U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R, VA-7) got a sneak peak into Hanover’s “first class facility.”

“[Hanover Center for Trades and Technology] is readying the [students] in developing the next step of their careers,” the Republican majority leader said.

Cantor spoke with a number of students in different programs while visiting HCTAT.

Watson Miller, a junior at Patrick Henry High School and a student in the automotives program at the Hanover Center for Trades and Technology, speaks with U.S. Rep. Eric Canor during a Sept. 5 tour.

Watson Miller, a junior at Patrick Henry High School and a student in the automotives program at the Hanover Center for Trades and Technology, speaks with U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor during a Sept. 5 tour.

Watson Miller, a junior at Patrick Henry High School, is a student in the automotives technology program. Miller told Cantor that he’d like to pursue a career in the field when he graduates.

The school, built in 2008, prepares 420 students in programs such as cosmetology, small-engines, HVAC/R and culinary arts.

Cantor stopped in a culinary arts lab, where he asked students why they are in the program.

“I came here because I’ve always loved cooking, “ said Kellie Leber, a third year culinary arts student, who is a full-time student at Lee-Davis High School.

Leber said she was also interested in the class because she wanted a sneak peak into what to expect in the field.

Once she graduates, Leber will “probably” go into the food industry.

Another student already has a plan for after he graduates. Michael Inge, an Atlee High School student, said he plans to work on a cruise ship.

About 70 percent of the center’s students go onto a two-or four-year college after finishing their program, according to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jamelle Wilson.

“It’s not just about pushing [students] but giving [them] the skills [they need] in the long run,” Wilson said.

The school sets up mock interviews with businesses and companies for students to practice and get ready for the workforce. There is also a “college night” where students can talk with representatives from colleges around the area.

HCTAT participates in the program “Ready Set Hire,” which allows students to get advice and knowledge from employers about their field and the workforce. Wilson attributed the school’s success to that program.

As Cantor spoke with students, administrators and School Board members during his visit, he became more impressed by the Center.

“It’s clear there’s a real commitment in Hanover County to giving students options,” Cantor told the press.

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